Yen Bai: The model of growing cinnamon according to International Organic Standards
The cinnamon - precious medicinal herbs in Yen Bai mountainsIn recent years, cinnamon has been considered a key crop to help the Dao ethnic community in Yen Bai improve their income and improve their quality of life.
Cinnamon - a plant associated with the cultural life of the Dao community in the Northern mountainous region
Information from the Vietnam Academy of Forestry Science, cinna-mon is a perennial plant, with an average height of 18 - 20m, woody body, smooth bark, gray-brown color, diameter ranges from 40 - 50cm; The roots grow in clusters, thrive and penetrate deep into the ground. This is a plant that grows well in tropical climates, with a lot of rain and high humidity, such as China, Myanmar, India, Vietnam, etc. The cinnamon leaves have an oblong shape, short stalk, staggered growth, characteristic aroma, creating a comfortable and pleasant feel-ing. When it comes to the harvest season, people peel off the bark from the trunk (cinnamon bark), large branches (cinnamon branches) or collect single leaves and small branches to process essential oils and raw materials.
According to Oriental Traditional Medicine, cinnamon is considered one of the four famous medicinal herbs (Ginseng - Antler - Cinnamon - Fuzi) on a par with Ginseng, Deer Antler and Fuzi (Radix Aconiti lateralis praeparata). Doctor Bui Khanh Ha, Specialist in Traditional Medicine at Ai Nghia General Clinic, said that cinnamon bark is spicy, has great heat properties, suitable for treating cold hands and feet, diarrhea, rheumatism; Cinnamon branches are sweet, warm, help the user to sweat a lot, effectively cure colds, eliminate toxins, clean the body. In addition, essential oils from cinnamon branches and leaves also help to deodorize the air and repel insects. Currently, peo-ple use cinnamon to process spices, foods, preparations,... In particu-lar, in some cold countries, people also use cinnamon as a material to keep warm or deodorize fishy meat and fish.
Large cinnamon growing area in Dai Son commune, Van Yen district, Yen Bai province.
In Vietnam, the cinnamon tree is closely associated with the spiritual life of the people of Van Yen district (Yen Bai province) in general and the northern mountainous Dao ethnic community in particular. Every year, during the harvest season, when the vast, immense forests in Van Yen district smell like ripe cinnamon, the Dao people throughout the village and village here are enthusiastic about shaving and peeling cinnamon.
Products of cinnamon flute and cinnamon powder brand "Thien Son Ngoc Que" from Binh An Cooperative.
The image of cinnamon trees and cinnamon gardens is not only famil-iar and close to the people in the highlands, but also brings significant economic benefits, helping the Dao ethnic community to improve their income and quality of life.
Bringing Yen Bai cinnamon brand farMr. Ly Hai (30 years old), a Dao person living in Lang Moi village (Dai Son commune, Van Yen district, Yen Bai province) said, over the years, he himself witnessed countless compatriots rising up and out of poverty by supplying raw materials of cinnamon (cinnamon bark, cinnamon flute) to businesses, factories, and distilleries.
Laborers working in the local raw material area.
Howev-er, the business model mainly stops in the small and fragmented form, it is difficult to find consumption partners, and is often pressured by traders. On the other hand, people massively plant cinnamon without a long-term plan, leading to the risk of falling prices, adding to the use of pesticides and plant protection chemicals, so the effectiveness is not guaranteed.
Therefore, Mr. Hai and 11 young Dao people decided to establish Binh An cooperative (in Dai Son commune, Van Yen district, Yen Bai province) striving to build a brand name "Thien Son Ngoc Que" to change the local farming methods and perception according to in-ternational organic standards (the USA or Europe). Especially, dis-tinct products such as cinnamon tube and cinnamon powder received many positive reviews from the appraisal council of Yen Bai Provin-cial People's Committee and an outstanding 3-star OCOP certification in 2021.
Produced with a closed process, and dried with a solar-powered drying house, cinnamon tube (cured cinnamon bark, rolled in a tubular shape) has a spicy yet sweet taste, often used as a cooking spice and beverages ingredient (add in tea, coffee, cocktails,...). Through a detailed manual selection process, powdered cinnamon (finely ground cinnamon bark) is always hygiene, safe, convenient, and suitable for long-term preservation.
Factory producing and processing cinnamon products of the cooperative.
The application of organic standards in the process of growing, har-vesting, preliminary procedure, and processing not only improves the ecological environment in the direction of green, clean, beautiful, sus-tainable growth of medicinal areas but also doubles the price and product value, and triple the yield per hectare. Furthermore, with the motto of preserving and promoting the traditional culture of ethnic communities in Van Yen district, limiting workers moving to the city to find work, in 2022, the cooperative also maintains jobs for nearly 20 Dao workers, including 6 women working in production and pro-cessing factories.
In response to the Prime Minister's Decision No. 1719/QD-TTg dated 14th October 2021 on promoting socio-economic development in mountainous areas from 2021 to 2025, recently, a number of locali-ties with a large concentration of ethnic minority communities in the North, including Yen Bai, have organized many programs and activi-ties to promote local economic development. For example, "Synopsis on orientation for sustainable cinnamon development" on 11th May 2022, organized by the Swiss Association for International Coopera-tion in Vietnam (Helvetas) in collaboration with the Center for Rural Economic Development (CRED) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Yen Bai province.
At the program, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Develop-ment also identified cinnamon as a key crop, bringing high economic value, and will focus on promoting exploitation as a key economic spearhead. Mr. Hai and members of the cooperative hope that the in-terest and support from the local government will help the coopera-tive group have more motivation to develop a model of production and processing of agricultural products according to organic stand-ards in order to contribute to the recovery and development of the homeland's economy after a long time being heavily affected by the epidemic.