Product display of herbs at Sa Pa market. Product display of herbs at Sa Pa market.  

Giao Co Lam (Gynostemma pentaphyllum Cucurbitaceae), is specially abundant in the Lao Cai province and has been collected from the forests by generations of the locals. It is commonly consumed to prevent diseases related to blood and liver, thanks to its high saponin content.

The consumption of this tea has increased along with the publications claiming its properties. This has led to the creation of a number of enterprises involved in large scale collecting, processing, and selling of the product for distribution in many provinces and cities, mainly through pharmaceutical shops as final retailer. However, due to the growing demand, weak quality controls, and unsustainable harvest practices, its source in the forest is now at risk of being depleted and there is a big prices gap among the different producers.

The value chain for Giao Co Lam in Hoang Lien Sa Pa National park starts with the stage of input supply and harvest production which is done by local collectors. Processing and preservation is done by a few local primary processors using traditional methods,  or some of the same local collectors who have processing capacity. Distribution is done by a number of shops in Sa Pa, Lao Cai, and other cities such as Hanoi that reach the final consumers that are normally tourists and households.

Opportunities derived from the development of this value chain include the increasing demand for the medicinal tea and the increasing number of tourists visiting the Hoang Lien Sa Pa NP. There is also potential support from projects and government as well as job creation and income increase.

The contribution of the BBP project to this value chain is based in developing a pilot model

of a Giao Co Lam processing unit to be managed by local cooperatives, support building models of Giao Co Lam plantantion for households, and applying advanced processing technology to selected processors.