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Mulberry trees prove good for health and wealth

Entrepreneur earns 6 million kip a month from the sale of mulberry products

Mr Somphone Chanthadala and his family have turned the traditional use of the mulberry tree into the basis of several products which are earning them more than six million a month.

Born into a farming family at Keokou village in Keo-oudom district, Vientiane province, Mr Somphone has always liked working on the land, especially with mulberry trees and raising silkworms. He has seen the mulberry plantation close to his house, planted by his parents, used to feed silkworms to make silk to sell to sinh weavers in the province and capital.

He observed that most of the trees were not being fully utilised, as most of the fruit fell to the ground and decomposed and the leaves were only used to feed silkworms.

Mr Somphone Chanthadala and his wife show juice, tea and makbeng made from mulberry trees. .

This got Mr Somphone thinking of ways to maximise the full benefits and thereby earn as much as possible from the trees. While his ideas were different from those of his parents he decided to bite the bullet and plant two hectares of mulberries in Vientiane province in 2000.

Before the trees fruited he studied horticulture books, consulted farmers and browsed the internet in search of ideas. He learnt that all parts of the mulberry tree could be used to earn money. For example, the fruit can be made into juice which is good for health while mulberry leaves and silkworm stools can be used to make tea.

Once the fruit was ready to harvest Mr Somphone started to make mulberry juice in addition to keeping silkworms for the production of silk.

He can now produce 2,000 litres of juice and 500 kilogrammes of silkworm stools for tea production annually.

However, with demand increasing each year some customers are ordering juice and tea in advance, so to match customer demand he has decided to plant an additional hectare of mulberry trees in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province.

Today, his newest product utilises dried mulberry fruit for decorating makbeng and garlands which retail from 20,000 kip each.

Through his efforts to commercialise various benefits of the mulberry tree Mr Somphone's products have become recognised under the ‘One District, One Product' scheme in Vientiane province. And now his mulberry juice has become popular among customers with many learning of its numerous health benefits.

According to www.global healing centre, mulberries are delicious, nutritious and enjoyed all over the world. Red or white mulberries grow in bunches called drupes on the Morus alba tree while the leaves, which also conta in nutrients, are used as food for silkworms.

Mulberries are a source of antioxidants which help lessen damage caused by free radicals. The entire mulberry plant - leaves, stems, and fruit contain antioxidants. Research published by the University of Texas Health Science Centre credits one antioxidant in particular, resveratrol, for having positive effects on age and longevity.

Mulberries support the immune system as they contain alkaloids that activate macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that stimulate the immune system, putting it on high active alert against health threats.

The fruit is thought to support healthy blood sugar as it contains compounds that support balanced blood sugar levels. Traditional medicines in China and Trinidad and Tobago have used mulberry leaves to promote balanced blood sugar levels.

Dried mulberries are a great source of protein, vitamin C and K, fibre, and iron. Even the leaves contain protein, fibre, and nutrients.

Practitione rs of traditional Chinese medicine have used mulberries as a remedy for swelling and redness. A recent Romanian study discovered that a curcumin and mulberry leaf combination may be a new lead into natural remedies for this sort of irritation.

Researchers at Khon Kaen University in Thailand set out to answer whether mulberries offered anything to the brain by evaluating the effect of mulberry on male rats with memory impairment and brain damage. Although further investigation is required before mulberries can be declared a cognitive enhancer and neuroprotectant, rats that consumed mulberries had better memories and less oxidative stress.

This is just some of the information regarding the health benefits of mulberries. Mr Somphone hopes to continue developing new mulberry products for the benefit of customers' health in the years to come.

By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update March 18 , 2017 )

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