At the end of 2017, nearly 600 ha of forest land was allocated to farmers in Dak Chum and Tu Mo Rong villages. These were people living under the poverty line – on their situation is much improved. The forest is kept safe under their control, while the people themselves have made very good progress with growing Vietnamese ginseng called “Sâm Ngọc Linh”, a new livelihood model. This is a part of the joint project of the EU, People’s Committee of Tu Mo Rong commune in Kon Tum Province and CIRUM, CARE.
Saving forest land
In each village, a group of forest guards is established with clear regulations to guide their work. A Phan, leader of Dak Chum 1 village, shared his thief catching story.
There was a man trying to cut the wood and planned to get it out of the forest in the middle of the evening without anyone noticing. Unluckily for him, a local person came across him and could see what was going on. That person then came to tell us. Immediately we rang the bell and assembled a team of 30 people to catch the forest thief. Terrified, the thief fled, but left behind two buffaloes and all the wood he had harvested.
The next day, he came back to the village, asking us to give him back his buffaloes. We had a meeting and fined him 30 million VND for chopping down the trees. Half of this was divided to everyone in the village and the other half was added to the forest protection fund.
Sâm Ngọc Linh – a potential livelihood model
Y Thu and A Phan, leaders of the villages, shared their success growing Vietnamese ginseng called Sâm Ngọc Linh with us.
We started with 120 Vietnamese ginseng seed plants. They were very costly at around 10 USD per seed plant. Seven plants died because of rats but the others are growing very well. We know that they are a precious species so we invest in protecting them. We check them twice a day and set traps around them to make sure they are not stolen. In Dak Chum 1 village, they even have a gazebo to check on them. We look forward to the fourth and fifth year because then the plants are tall enough and we can start harvesting their leaves. You know, we can earn nearly 350 USD for each kilo of ginseng leaves we sell and each kilo of ginseng root can be sold for 2,600 USD and evn higher. Each seed worths around 2-3 USD. This time, we will save the roots for multiplication.
We had a regulation that whatever happens in the forest must be discussed and agreed by the village. Our people are really excited. Some even bought the seed plants and tried to grow them themselves. I myself tried 40 seed plants.
From 2018, the villagers will also be paid a forest service fee from the government, about 17 USD/hectare .With the total forest area of 538 hectares, the two communities then will have over nine thousand USD. This is a large amount of money to them and will play an important part in forest management. Maybe people will use it to buy some more Vietnamese ginseng seed plants.