Visiting Hamlet 4, Quang Thanh commune (Yen Thanh – Nghe An), it is not difficult to find fields of turmeric scattered throughout the commune. What remains for those who come and go is clusters of turmeric grown by the dedication of the people here.
Despite the low price, we still grow
We visited Ms. Thai Thi Thien’s family in Hamlet 4, Quang Thanh commune to learn about the red turmeric that local people grow, and hear the stories of people who do not leave the turmeric.
(Local farmers harvest mature fresh turmeric)
Quang Thanh is a poor commune in Yen Thanh district. Here, in addition to growing fruit trees such as guava, Taiwan pear, or raising chicken, cattle, many farmers also grow red turmeric, which brings a quite high income.
Turmeric is a familiar plant that appears in the daily life of Vietnamese people in general and Nghe An province in particular. Turmeric is not only used as a spice in traditional dishes but it is also known as a “precious medicine” for health and beauty.
At this time, the turmeric starts to produce small rhizomes in the soil. Standing in the middle of Ms. Thai Thi Thien’s turmeric garden, we listened to her story about the process of growing turmeric to know how much people here suffer.
Ms. Thien has been associated with red turmeric for more than ten years. She does not know the origin of red turmeric but has followed her grandparents and parents to grow this plant.
Red turmeric is also called ‘nghe nep’, or ‘nghe ram’. They have a small shape, with an orange-red inner core, and rather thin skin. It is very difficult to grow this type of turmeric, but “the rarer, the more precious”. Red turmeric brings amounts of higher quality powder than other turmeric varieties.
Ms. Thien said: “Turmeric is an underground plant that is often planted to collect rhizomes, so it needs spongy soil and a place to drain water”.
Farmers in Quang Thanh start to grow red turmeric in April and harvest in January of the following year. In particular, this variety of turmeric can only be grown in one crop per year. Ms. Thien said: “Growing red turmeric is not difficult, the difficulty is how long we have been attached to it. Despite the low price, I will not leave it because of something deep in my mind.”
After being harvested, red turmeric will be processed into turmeric powder. 100 kilograms of fresh turmeric only results in eight kilograms of powder. The current price of turmeric powder ranges from 180,000 to 200,000 VND/kg.
Brand building for sustainable development
Talking to us about sustainable development and having red turmeric products present in domestic and foreign markets, Mr. Phan Duc Tien, Chairman of Quang Thanh Commune People’s Committee, shared: “Red turmeric is easy to grow and adapt to the soil of this place. However, in the last two years, the output of this product is unstable, the price is low. Currently, in Quang Thanh commune, red turmeric is grown unfocused and scattered. Therefore, it is more difficult to bring fresh turmeric and turmeric powder products to the market.”
Mr. Tien added: “In the past, all hamlets ( eight hamlets) in the commune grew red turmeric. At that time, the growing area was more than 30 hectares, ten kilograms of fresh red turmeric was sold on the market at more than 100,000 VND, turmeric powder at 300,000 – 500,000 VND. But now, fresh turmeric is only at 50,000 VND, down 50%. The growing area of red turmeric is only 10 hectares left.”
Currently, local authorities are actively involved in developing geographical indications as well as building a brand for Quang Thanh turmeric powder and bringing the products to trade fairs. Mr. Phan Duc Tien added: ” Based on the regulations of the Government, the commune has proceeded to guide local people to implement the relevant procedures to register the labels and trademarks of turmeric products. At the same time, we also encourage people to focus on caring for turmeric to ensure the quality of the products and meet the strict requirements of the market”.
To make red turmeric become the main crop in the development of the economy, the locality has planned to work with enterprises to bring products into supermarkets. This is to create more opportunities for red turmeric products to easily reach consumers and help farmer keep their minds on the work.