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  • Jun 18, 2021
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Traveling to the Siler cultivation field

A correspondents’ team of the MONTSAME National News Agency had a tour to a farming field in Bayantsogt and Bayankhangai soums of Tuv aimag, where ‘Bund-Ovoo’ LLC grows Saposhnikovia divaricate (Siler in English, Fang Feng in Chinese and bangpung in Korean).

In traditional medicine of any nation, herbal remedies that are most helpful to the human body are commonly used. For example, the Siler which is very rare not only in our country but also in the world is used in food additives and medicines in countries including China and Korea. According to resolution No: 153 of 1995 by the Government of Mongolia, the Siler was included in the list of very rare plants.

Some of the Mongolian companies have already started growing this plant, and Bund-Ovoo LLC is the most successful. The company started growing the Siler organically in 2011, and today it grows the plant in Bayantsogt and Bayankhangai soums of Tuv aimag.

“It is a perennial herb, arising from annular and tuberous rootstock up to 3-4 cm thick. It heights up to 90 cm. In the traditional medicine, its root is used in the making of medicines. The leaves are used in the Orient for food as a vitamin. For instance, in Korea, the leaves, stems and stalks are used to make side dishes banchan. But in our country, the leaves are used only for animal fodder,” said J.Ariunbold, director of ‘Bund-Ovoo’ LLC.

In the era of modern science, the medicinal plants are being broadly studied and used in practice in the health sector. Likewise, the Siler is widely used in Chinese medicine to reduce fever, relieve pain, treat inflammation, and treat cancer and infections.

About the Siler benefits, Mr. Ariunbold said, “This herb is not currently used in the traditional Mongolian medicine, but in the countries such as China, S.Korea, and Japan, it is used to prepare more than 70 types of herbal medicines. This plant is very rich in sugar-type elements: sucrose, fructose and glucose. Moreover, researches conducted by Dr. Ts.Gundegmaa have proven that the Siler root has a positive impact on the treatment of arthritis.”  Although it is banned to pick from nature and export the Siler roots, listed as very rare plant, according to the resolution, dated 2018, of Minister of Environment and Tourism that prohibits collection and export of this plant until 2023, several attempts to smuggle it across the border were detected.

As for ‘Bund-Ovoo’ LLC, it firstly began growing the Siler with seeds prepared from Dornod and Selenge aimags under the permission of the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism. J. Ariunbold said that in recent years the company has been preparing seeds from the old fields of the company. He said, “The plant should not be picked from nature because plant species in our country are decreasing due to human and animal husbandry factors. By cultivating this plant, we no longer need to pick it from nature. As well, it is ecologically significant to cultivate it in a natural way without disturbing the soil. For instance, every day we see more and more roots to grow on this 160 hectare area cultivated in 2019. As it is perennial, it will grow forever once planted. Therefore, the most important thing is not to pull out the roots. Medicinal properties in the rootstock are great; thus it can be cut by 15-22 cm from the top for use after growing for at least four years.”

Looking at the farming field of ‘Bund-Ovoo’ LLC, it was apparent that the Siler was planted in rows, but looks really natural. Everyone knows that the tillage is essential to plant all kinds of crops including wheat and vegetables, causing great ecological damage to the land. It is amazing that the perennials, especially the Siler, have ecological benefits that they help in the accumulation of groundwater and nurture the surrounding plants. At the same time as getting acquainted with the farming area, we kept talking more about the Siler and its positive impact on the environment.

“In general, medicinal properties of the herbs are preserved well if they are grown in their natural state. The medicinal properties of the plant will be lost, If it is sown on the overturned soil,” said Mr. Ariunbold.

To the question of how many years after the planting the Siler is ready for harvesting, he answered, “From the experience of our company, we start harvesting in four years after the plantation. Also, the harvesting machine should not be used to harvest this plant. The plants seeded in 2019 appear to be sprouting this year. As the time of sprouting varies, the roots may be different. Therefore, it is impossible to harvest by machinery. Harvesting by machinery is also harmful to the environment, so it is harvested manually by individuals. During the harvest season, 40-50 are permanently employed, and sometimes it reaches 100.”

About its ecological benefits, he said, “This plant is same as a tree. It is also called a groundwater reservoir. The plant absorbs groundwater, that is, water collected below ground level due to percolation of rain water, through its root system, and when the sun rises, it provides water to nearby plants. Therefore, this plant plays a hugely important role to protect groundwater.”

While introducing the Siler cultivation field, Mr. Ariunbold broke up the soil with a special metal tool and showed us a two-year old Siler cutting from the root. “Its root has remained in the depth of soil, thus it will grow again after some time. However, if the soil is left uncompacted, the plant will not grow again. The roots are used for medicinal purposes, while leaves and upper parts are pruned and used for animal feed.”

In our country, several kinds of research are underway to produce herbal medicines by using the Siler roots. Therefore, the future goal of ‘Bund-Ovoo’ LLC is to supply raw materials if the herbal drug factory is established in Mongolia, noted Mr. Ariunbold. "Our ultimate goal is to develop herbal medicines and use them for the health of the Mongolian people," he added.

S.Munkhbaatar

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