|▲ Korea Organic Ginseng Cooperative / Executive Director Sunggwan Choi|
Ginseng is one of the most popular health functional foods in South Korea. It is known to strengthen immunity system in our body which is the reason people never stop buying. The best ginseng farm should satisfy gentle slope, good drainage, good soil and it should face either northward or northeastward.
Korea Organic Ginseng Cooperative
The Korea Organic Ginseng Cooperative is famous for cultivating ginseng ‘organically’ as the name suggests. All products of the cooperative are attached with an eco-friendly mark and consumers seem to be willing to buy despite its relatively higher price than similar products on the market. Many farms are putting up the banner ‘organic’ nowadays. But the truth is revealed by whether ‘organic’ is intended for commercial or for pride of farmers.
“You might have heard about organic vegetables and eggs etcetera but not organic ginseng. This is because farmers who grow ginseng organically are not many. Luckily, smart consumers are recognizing its value and difference” says Sunggwan Choi, Executive Director of Korea Organic Ginseng.
It is the first case that the cooperative succeeded cultivating ginseng the way our ancestors did without using agricultural pesticides during the Goryeo Kingdom (Goryeo then called Corea and then Korea). The farm run by the cooperative is 661,157 square meter big in size and it produces 45% of the whole organically grown ginseng nationwide. The ginseng is praised for rich rootlets, flavor and medicinal effect.
The ginseng produced in the farm is also used for cosmetics and health functional foods such as ‘One a Day Ginseng Stick’. The stick contains 63% ginseng which is very high. The cooperative now is working on introducing 100% organic ginseng products designed for kids.
“We are not profit-driven. We have a great sense of duty to grow the best ginseng products for the people. It is our pride and it is our determination. And it is only natural for us to make contribution to promoting healthy life of the people. That is the driving force of our passion and expertise” says Choi.
30 years of 3 generation family business
Choi has 30 years of expertise in growing ginseng with 15 years in growing organic ginseng. He grew up watching his parents growing ginseng with their soil-covered hands and took over the family business with pride.
“Organic ginseng production in South Korea is only around 1.3% of the whole ginseng products. This is because growing ginseng organically is such a challenge. It requires a great amount of time and effort as we must not use any chemical substances. Instead, I use organic matters from leaves and chaff for fertilizers.”
Started from 6 members, the cooperative now see the number increased to 26. Anseong City also rolled up sleeve to provide necessary support. The city listed the ginseng in ‘5 Anseong Brands’. As a result, the cooperative has seen a gradual increase of orders from iCOOP, Consumer’s Cooperative and Choroc Village.
“Thanks to the support of the city, we are creating a good synergy. We will keep working on cultivating and providing the best organic ginseng possible especially in this time of the virus attack.”
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