The direction for the sustainable development of Organic star anise in Lang Son
According to the statistics of the World Spices Association, Vietnam ranks second after China in terms of star anise output. Specifically, Lang Son is currently a province with the largest growing area and output of star anise in the country. Up to now, the total area of star anise in the province is 33,738 hectares. Star anise areas of Van Quan, Binh Gia, and Van Lang districts are over 25,000 hectares accounting for 74.1% of the total area of Lang Son.
(Organic Star Anise in Lang Son forests)
Star anise is a tree bringing high economic value, whose products have been widely used in many fields such as medicinal materials, aromatherapy, cuisine, and handicrafts. The consumption market of star anise is also wide with major markets such as the US, European countries, India, China, Japan, and some Southeast Asian countries. As one of the key forestry crops of the province, in recent years, the source of income from star anise has helped local people improve their living standards and reduce poverty. Although the capital for planting star anise is high, it can provide long-term benefits for decades. Based on the statistics of the implementation of forestry targets in Lang Son in 2021 by the Provincial Forest Protection Department, the total output of dried star anise flowers in the province reached 16,059 tons bringing nearly 1,500 billion VND.
(Dried Organic Star Anise Autumn Crop under sunshine)
It is obvious that the potential and economic value of star anise are great. However, for the time being, many forest areas of star anise are gradually degenerating, and the productivity, as well as the quality, is low. The reasons for this fact are due to outdated farming practices, limited application of science and technology, and seedlings selection. As a result, the products from star anise are difficult to be qualified with the increasing requirements of the outside market. This is also an obstacle to the sustainable development of star anise in the locality.
For the province’s forestry sector to improve existing limitations and take full advantage of resources to become a key economic sector, on February 7, 2020, the People’s Committee of Lang Son province issued Decision No. 234 /QD-UBND on approving “Sustainable forestry development project in Lang Son 2020-2030”. Star anise tree is identified as one of the provincial forestry products with specific characteristics and high value created due to the natural conditions of the ecological region. This crop needs to be developed and oriented to create a concentrated raw material area meeting the standards of sustainable forest management and organic production. From there, products from star anise will be ensured a clear origin, and friendly with the environment.
(Farmers harvest Star Anise by hands )
To reach the sustainable development goals of star anise, one of the effective solutions is growing star anise based on organic standards. For now, organic star anise production is being encouraged and supported through investment projects in some districts, typically in Chi Lang (174 hectares), Binh Gia (131 hectares), and Van Quan (over 400 hectares). Changing from outdated traditional methods to the application of new techniques in production such as tilling, selecting seedlings, using organic fertilizers, reasonable irrigation regimes, pruning, and pest control by safe preparations, the cultivation of star anise is showing positive signs: plants grow well, less susceptible to pests and diseases, and quantity increase by 15-20%. Products created from organic star anise products have good quality, clear origin, meet commodity standards and safety requirements for users, which are very popular with domestic and international consumers. The value of star anise in the market, therefore, becomes higher and higher.
Along with synchronous solutions to improve the output and value of star anise, the production of star anise following organic standards not only enhances the value but also contributes to the promotion of Lang Son star anise products to fastidious but potential markets.
This is a good sign proving that the province’s “key tree” is developing sustainably, step by step affirms the brand name of Lang’s specialty on the domestic and international markets, contributing to improving people’s living standards and production value of the province’s forestry sector.