Ginseng, often referred to as the “king of herbs,” holds a special place in the rich tapestry of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This valuable plant, known for its medicinal properties and nutritional benefits, has been cherished in China for over 4,000 years. Among the numerous regions known for ginseng cultivation, Changbai Mountain stands as a global icon, both in terms of its historical significance and its contributions to the ginseng industry.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China made a significant addition to the country’s agricultural heritage list by recognizing the ginseng cultivation system in Changbai Mountain as a crucial part of this legacy. This designation reaffirms Changbai Mountain’s role as one of the world’s primary origins of ginseng and its ongoing prominence in global ginseng production.
The recognition of the ginseng cultivation system in the mountainous regions of Tonghua and Baishan cities and Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, located in the northeastern province of Jilin, is a testament to the preservation of a comprehensive heritage that encompasses various facets of ginseng cultivation. This heritage comprises seven key cultural elements, including the conservation of wild ginseng germplasm resources and their natural growth environment, the diverse methods of ginseng cultivation, and the intricate processing techniques. Moreover, it acknowledges the historical significance of official ginseng trade during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), highlighting the long-standing importance of ginseng in Chinese culture.
Jilin Province, particularly the Changbai Mountain region, holds a dominant position in China’s ginseng production landscape. In 2022, the ginseng industry in Jilin contributed an impressive output value exceeding 64 billion yuan (approximately 8.77 billion U.S. dollars), showcasing its remarkable economic significance.
Sun Zhentian, the Secretary-General of the Jilin Ginseng Industry Association, underscores the importance of this recognition. According to him, the inclusion of the ginseng cultivation system in Changbai Mountain on the national-level agricultural cultural heritage list is an exceptional milestone. It not only solidifies China’s status as the country of ginseng’s origin but also provides a platform for the scientific utilization of ginseng resources and the quality development of the ginseng industry. This recognition promises to propel ginseng cultivation and trade into a new era, marked by a renewed emphasis on sustainable practices and scientific advancements in the field.
The inclusion of the ginseng cultivation system in Changbai Mountain on the list of important Chinese agricultural cultural heritage is a testament to the enduring significance of ginseng in the nation’s cultural and economic landscape. Changbai Mountain’s rich history as a global ginseng production hub, combined with its commitment to preserving diverse cultural aspects related to ginseng, will undoubtedly contribute to the sustained growth and development of this iconic herb in China and around the world.