Duc Thong commune has 100 hectares of black jelly plants, the largest area in Thach An district. Trieu Thi Hien, a local Dao ethnic minority woman, says she started growing black jelly plants in 2016 on one hectare, from which she has earned 2,600 USD a year.
“Black jelly trees are planted on the hillsides at the beginning of February when it is humid but harvested only in the dry season. There is only one crop a year,” according to Hien.
|Black jelly leaves are dried.
Black jelly leaves are harvested, then delivered to local jelly makers or exported to China. Dozens of jelly factories are in operation in Thach An district.
Le Thuy, owner of a factory, used to make jelly by herself for family members, friends, and neighbors. When she noticed that the demand for black jelly was increasing, she got others involved and bought machinery to produce black jelly in larger quantities.
Thuy told VOV, “Making black jelly has improved local living conditions. I now employ ten people in my workshop. At the height of the season, my workshop produces two tons of black jelly a day. My products are sold throughout the northern region.”
This year Thach An district has 360 hectares of black jelly plants, yielding 2,000 tons of jelly worth 4 million USD.
Vu Duc Thien, Head of the Agriculture Division of Thach An district, said, ‘Each hectare produces six tons of black jelly leaves worth 4,300 USD, much higher than the profit from traditional crops like rice and corn. So we consider black jelly the spearhead of local economic development.”
| Thach An people use machines to produce black jelly.
Thach An black jelly gets enthusiastic reviews from customers. But there are only a few dozen black jelly factories in the district. Local authorities want to expand the cultivation area and build a sustainable brand for Thach An black jelly, according to Hoang Van Thach, Secretary of Thach An district Party Committee.
Thach said, “We will lure investment to construct more black jelly factories to increase our profits. The vast majority of our black jelly leaves are currently exported to China instead of being processed locally. We are seeking approval from the Ministry of Science and Technology for a Thach An black jelly trademark.”
| Black jelly is a great summer treat.
Research on black jelly processing is being carried out with the long-term aim of helping Cao Bang province build up a large-scale black jelly processing industry.