Vietnam sees opportunities for spices exports to India

The Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency’s Export Promotion Center (PROMOCEN) has announced a virtual event to take place later this month serving trade connection between Vietnam and India regarding spices and flavourings.

Vietnam sees opportunities for spices exports to India hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo:

Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency’s Export Promotion Center (PROMOCEN) has announced a virtual event to take place later this month serving trade connection between Vietnam and India regarding spices and flavourings.

Accordingly, the two-hour networking is slated for February 23 and expected to gather about 40 Vietnamese and Indian firms.

The participants will inform each other on their respective markets, particularly in terms of advantages and obstacles; and introduce their products and strengths to potential importers.

The organisation of the event sees the coordination of PROMOCEN, the Indian Embassy in Vietnam, and the Spices Board of India.

Vietnam’s agriculture sector along with the spices and seasonings industry have enjoyed a remarkable transition which turns the country into a supplier of those products for the global market. Among Vietnamese spices, peppercorn has gained a foothold on the international market and holds a lion’s share in export revenue./.


The healing power of Vietnam’s farmers

VietNamNet Bridge – Farmers nationwide have improved their lives considerably by cultivating medicinal herbs, but over exploitation threatens their extinction. Despite the country’s tremendous potential as a grower and producer of herbal medicine, it has gone from being an exporter to an importer of medicinal materials. Viet Ton and Bach Lien report.

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Treating pain: Local inhabitants in Cat Cat Village of Sa Pa District in northern Lao Cai Province put medicinal herbs in the oven to make traditional herbal bath.—VNA/VNS Photo Huong Thu

Standing in the middle of his two-hectare artichoke garden in Ta Phin Commune of Sa Pa District, Lao Cai Province, Thao A Cang cannot conceal his pride.

From a poor farmer who hardly earned a living, after the latest artichoke harvest he would even be able to buy a motorcycle.

Cang, a member of the Dao ethnic group, is a happy man. Not only has his life improved significantly, his artichokes also help others.

“Growing artichoke is easier than growing rice, moreover the benefit is three-fold or four-fold,” he says.

Like him, many local inhabitants of Sa Pa have seen their lives improve since they returned to growing medicinal plants after a hiatus of decades.

“Sa Pa used to be famous for growing medicinal plants,” says Le Tan Phong, deputy chairman of the Sa Pa District’s People’s Committee.

“In the 1980s, we used to provide the seeds to some areas to grow medicinal plants and sell them to East Europe. However in the early 90s, due to changes of the political system in this East European market, the export medicinal plants in Sa Pa declined,” he said.

Now, with the crops restored, local farmers can earn up to VND5 million (US$224) to VND7 million ($313) per month.

In the central province of Quang Nam, farmers can also escape poverty thanks to the cultivation of medicinal herbs, sometimes in the foliage of the forests.

Since the beginning of this year, local farmers have been given 200,000 medicinal herb seeds to plant in an area of six hectares under forest foliage.

Arất Blui, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of the province’s Tay Giang District, said cultivation of those plants was an efficient way for local inhabitants to ensure a stable livelihood.

The province is home to more than 700,000ha of forest land which is suitable for the cultivation of a variety of medicinal plants including Ngọc Linh ginseng, cinnamon, giao co lam, and sa nhan (ammum), in addition to hoang dang, dinh lang, which have great economic potential.

The herbs are believed to have curative value for a variety of ailments and yield substances that can be extracted to make dietary supplements and alternative medicines.

Viet Nam has tremendous potential to develop medicinal substances, including cinnamon and star anise.

Medicinal plants flourish across the country, primarily in the northern mountainous region, in the western part of the central provinces of Nghe An and Thanh Hoa, and in the Central Highland provinces of Kon Tum and Lam Dong. Star anise, which is grown in the northern provinces of Lang Son, Quang Ninh and Bac Kan, has fetched handsome profits for local residents.

Risk of over-exploitation

However, the over-exploitation of those medicinal herbs without preservation and development plans has increased the risk of extinction of some precious plants.

The People’s Committee of Kon Tum said that in recent years, many Vietnamese traders often bought cu li bulbs from the province’s Dak Glei District. The plant is in great demand for treating back pain and aches and pains of bones and tendons.

The plant’s price ranges from VND2,000 to 2,500 per kilogram of fresh bulbs. After preliminary treatment and drying, they are sold at a price between VND12,000 and 15,000 per kilogram, mostly to the Chinese market.

Statistics show that the Central Highlands have 1,000 varieties of medicinal plants as its land and climate are very suitable for their growth.

Nguyen Van Du from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources said the Central Highlands began to preserve precious medicinal plants a long time ago.

Already in 1996, several medicinal plants in the region were threatened with extinction from over-exploitation. Moreover, every year thousands of hectares of forest were destroyed to make way for plantations of coffee, pepper, rubber, and cocoa, shrinking the cultivation areas of the medicinal plants.

Population growth and the attendant demand for housing, along with rapid urbanisation, have resulted in the loss of different varieties of medicinal plants.

From exporter to importer

Sadly, in recent years Viet Nam has gone from being an exporter to an importer of medicinal substances.

The situation has become more and more alarming. Some six years ago, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan asked the Ministry of Health to make a plan for developing and preserving precious herbs and other substances used for medicinal purposes.

The uncontrolled exploitation of medicinal plants has made it difficult to source them in order to produce medicines locally at low prices.

The Ministry of Health estimates that the country currently has more than 4,000 plant species used to produce traditional medicines.

It is estimated that about 5,000 tonnes of medicinal crops are planted and harvested annually.

Domestic demand is very high.

At a recent workshop on Sustainable Development of Medicinal Materials in Viet Nam, experts said the country’s pharmaceutical industry had consumed about 60,000 tonnes of traditional or herbal medicinal materials per year, of which around 80 per cent were imported from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Singapore.

Safety standards

The director of the ministry’s Traditional Medicines Department, Pham Vu Khanh, said that every week some 300 to 400 tonnes of medicinal substances were imported, mostly from China.

According to Khanh, most of the imported substances from China were agricultural products not geared for the production of traditional medicine.

“That would impact much of the safety standards of medicinal materials and the development of the traditional medicine industry in Viet Nam,” he said.

The director pointed to shortcomings in the management of imported medicinal materials, especially at border checkpoints: authorities can only check quantity but not the quality.

Experts at the event attributed the problem to a lack of capital investment for developing herbal materials and formulating relevant regulations. The management of traditional medicine production and trading is currently based on Western medicine regulations. The country’s traditional medicine testing system needs to improve its quality, as well, they said.

They urged Viet Nam to prioritise its policies to support local traditional medicine producers and minimise the import of materials in order to promote local production and producers.

To preserve and develop those medicinal plants, experts also urged better management of the Central Highland forests and less forest destruction, in general, for the cultivation of industrial crops.

They also called for teaching local inhabitants about the importance of those plants and how they can be used to their own benefit.

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Natural habitat: – A woman from Na Ot Village, Mai Son District, of Son La Province harvests cu li plants in the forest. Over-exploitation could make this plant extinct in this province and other areas.—VNA/VNS Photo Cong Luat

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Improved livelihood: 20-year-old Ma A Nu is known in Lao Cai Province for his art of making essential oil extracted from medicinal herbs. — VNA/VNS Photo Huong Thu

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Economic potential: Fruits of the Ngu Vi Tu tree (Schisandraceae) are efficient in curing ashthma and coughs. They can be found mostly in Kon Tum Province.—VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam

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High domestic demand: Linh chi (lingzhi) mushroom are sold at the market in Da Lat City of Lam Dong Province.—VNS Photo Doan Tung

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine | Theories – Diagnosis – Treatment

Having existed for generations, Vietnamese traditional medicine, also known as Southern Medicine (Thuoc Nam), is considered to drive the parallel evolution with Northern Medicine and Western Medicine, creating three main traditions. Seen as Vietnamese people’s pride, Southern Medicine was originally handed down verbally and primarily used with folk remedies that rely entirely on common ingredients.

Traditional Theories of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

Despite differing in practice, traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Vietnamese medicine share the same theoretical foundation – Dong Y (Eastern Medicine) theories which are Yin and Yang, and Five Elements. The balance of Yin and Yang between two opposite states (such as cold and hot), according to Eastern medicine’s principle, is instrumental in the human body’s life. Whilst Yin is the interior and negative principles, Yang is the exterior and positive principles. Another major theory of Dong Y is the Five elements named specifically Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. It is assumed that the flow of energy in our body follows the same principle from water nourishing wood, wood brings fire, fire forms ashes (earth), and earth solidifies to form metal.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine

Vietnamese practitioners of Northern Medicine relied on the four-part clinical examinations: visual inspection, auditory perception, interrogation, and taking patient’s pulses. Differing from western medicine, in Vietnamese traditional medicine, by examining the pulses and tongue, practitioners can imagine the disharmony between different elements and one’s body. They basically employ their therapy for proper syndromes rather than a patient’s complaints and then review all the symptoms to judge the ultimate source of illness.

In addition to diagnosis, the remedy is one of the typical features of Vietnamese traditional medicine which utilizes native ingredients such as tropical plants and animals. Physicians may prescribe medication with a majority of common herbs, vegetables, animal products, or even flowers in their fresh state or simply dried state. Particular drugs are designed to stimulate or ease particular organs, or added to counteract the destructive side-effects. Not only are ingested preparations offered but ointments and poultice are also an extraordinary part of the treatment coupled with steaming therapy. One more interesting thing is that southern medicine places a heavy emphasis on dietetics, temperature, or the spiciness of the food. Many therapies are prone to change a patient’s diet that is harmful to digestion and other organs.

In recent days, modern medicine has been subject to gain an increasing dominance; however, Southern indigenous medicine that is focused on radical cure rather than crash therapy is still given a priority. With millennial history, Vietnamese traditional medicine is invaluably national treasure due to the amazing curative effects reported.

VN medicinal herbs have potential to expand in Japan

There is a large potential to increase the export of medicinal herbs to Japan while several Japanese pharmaceutical companies are eyeing up herbs from Việt Nam, according to the Việt Nam Trade Office in Japan.

The trade office pointed out that Japan imported several medicinal herbs from Việt Nam, such as hemp, black garlic, black pepper, anise, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and sesame seed, citing statistics from Japanese customs that Việt Nam exported medicinal herbs worth about US$8.6 million to Japan in 2021.

However, Việt Nam held a modest market share of medicinal herbs in Japan, just around 1.1 per cent of Japan’s total medicinal herb imports.

This provided significant opportunities for Việt Nam to expand the export of medicinal herbs to Japan – the second-largest importer of medicinal herbs in the worth.

Việt Nam’s Trade Counselor in Japan, Tạ Đức Minh, told Việt Nam News Agency that Việt Nam has an abundant supply of medicinal herbs with more than 5,100 species of plants with medicinal use. However, Việt Nam’s export of medicinal herbs remained modest compared to its potential.

The good news was that some Japanese pharmaceutical companies are interested in buying medicinal herbs from Việt Nam, Minh said.

Nguyễn Văn Giáp, director of Hasu No Hana Joint Stock Company which was the distributor of some Japanese pharmaceutical companies such as JPS Pharmaceutical and Nikko Pharmaceutical in Việt Nam, said that Japan’s demand for importing raw medicinal materials was very high. At the same time, the potential supply from Việt Nam was abundant.

Giáp said that his company was finding ways to promote exporting Vietnamese raw medicinal materials to Japan.

According to Minh, China held a dominant market share of medicinal herbs in Japan. However, this did not mean there was no room for Việt Nam to expand the export of medicinal herbs to the market.

Makoto Tamura, director of the Tochigi Plant of JPS, was quoted by Việt Nam News Agency as saying that the company planned to expand sources of import from other countries, including Việt Nam.

As Japan has strict requirements for medicinal herbs, Vietnamese producers and exporters need to pay attention to all production stages to ensure quality, from plantation area planning to processing and preservation, according to the director.

The problem is that the plantation of medicinal plants remained scattered. The development programme for the pharmaceutical industry and domestically produced herbal ingredients until 2030 set the goal of building eight areas for sustainable exploitation of natural medicinal herbs and two to five large-scale plantation areas.

Minh said Việt Nam needed to focus on developing the production chain with deep processing to increase efficiency.

He added that policies were necessary to attract large enterprises to pour investment into building large-scale pharmaceutical production and processing centres.

Attention must be paid to developing plantation areas to ensure the quality of medicinal herbs. Traceability is also of considerable importance. — VNS

Cancer treatment from Vietnamese medicinal herbal product

Pharmacist-Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tram – Director of Thien Duoc Co., Ltd is the manager of these two scientific research projects. She has received two utility solution patents No.1168 for “Selective extraction process of bioactive alkaloid fractions for cancer treatment from Crinum latifolium L. leaves” under the Decision No.19254/QĐ-SHTT and No.1213 for “Selective extraction process of bioactive flavonoid fractions supporting cancer treatment from Crinum latifolium L. leaves” under the Decision No. 70507/QĐ-SHTT. These two scientific research projects were accepted and evaluated at fair and excellent level, so Crilin T was suggested for clinical trials on lung and prostate cancer by the Council of Science and Technology – the Ministry of Health.

So far, cancer is still a serious disease challenging many scientists. Cancer treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy also has many undesirable effects and high treatment costs. So, the scientists are trying to develop herbal medicines for cancer treatment and cancer treatment support because new medicines for cancer treatment have many side effects and high costs compared to herbal medicines. That motivates the scientists continue to search and do research in natural herbs, animals, minerals, etc. to find new medicinal herbs to save people from the risk of cancer. Dr. Tram and her colleagues who are highly experienced scientists in and outside the country have tried to search from Vietnamese rich sources of herbs in which Crinum latifolium L. var. crilae Tram & Khanh – one of the valuable medicinal plants in Vietnam discovered, domesticated and cultivated by Dr. Tram, is a novel variety of Vietnamese Crinum latifolium L. Dr. Tram desires to produce a specific medicine for the treatment of lung and prostate cancer. She has studied this Vietnamese medicinal herb since 1990 and produced Crila® which treats benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and uterine fibroids with high treatment efficacy and safety for patients. Moreover, in order to help patients prevent tumor diseases, Thien Duoc Co., Ltd as a technology-receiving unit of Dr. Tram’s research work has produced other products such as Crilin® and Crinum latifolium L. teabag to support tumor treatment. These two products contribute to the prevention of tumor diseases and against cancer relapse after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Especially, these products are produced from clean material sources harvested and processed according to GACP-WHO (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice – World Health Organization) criteria on an area of 20ha in Long Thanh – Dong Nai, with stable bioactive content and at a GMP-WHO (Good Manufacturing Practice – World Health Organization) manufacturing factory. With its preeminence, Crila® has been officially allowed for circulation on the highly demanding U.S. market since 2011 by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Revenue of Crila® in and outside the country in recent years has also increased gradually.

In the coming time, Dr. Tram’s scientific research work will give birth to Crilin T which is a result of research work at state and ministry levels formulated from alkaloid and flavonoid fractions proven to have bioactive substances, antioxidative activity and immunoenhancing properties against tumors indirectly or cytotoxicity directly on cancer cell lines of liver, lung and prostate. Crilin T is created from technological innovation in cultivation, extraction and formulation, so it is safe for patients and has high treatment efficacy which will be highly welcomed by patients and help bring Vietnamese drug brand to a higher level on the international pharmaceutical market.