NAKHON SAWAN: With use of herbal extracts to treat Covid-19 symptoms gaining popularity, a rising demand for krachai khao, or fingerroot, is generating a handsome income for growers in this province.
Sales have soared of the extract of the green chiretta plant, known as fah talai jone, used in traditional medicine and now being used to treat Covid-19 symptoms.
Word is spreading that finggeroot may also be effective.
The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine is partnering with Mahidol University to conduct a clinical trial into using two extracts from fingerroot, Pinostrobin and Pandulatin A, against the virus.
And the price of krachai khao, commonly used as a flavouring in food and in traditional medicine, has rocketed.
Previously, it sold for 30-80 baht a kilogramme, depending on the quality and the season, but prices have now jumped to 120 baht or more.
In Nakhon Sawan, farm households are now earning 5,000-7,000 baht a day selling fingerroot (Boesenbergia rotunda).
On Friday, Wichian Suecharoen and his family were busy sorting fingerroot at their farm in Ban Maklua, Muang district, for sale to wholesale buyers, who then sell it to market vendors.
He said his family had been growing and selling krachai khao for many years. It was used as an ingredient for chili pastes and for cooking.
Before, they were getting 30-80 baht a kilo. Over the past week, the price had risen steadily to around 120 baht a kilo, ranging from 100-170 baht depending on the size. All parts of the plant could be sold, Mr Wichian said.
He said fingerroot was yielding a handsome income for his family and other households growing the plant. Every day, wholesale buyers came to his community to buy krachai khao. They bought all they could lay their hands on, he said.
His family also received purchase orders online. All up, they could earn 5,000-7,000 baht a day just from selling krachai khao.
He planned to expand the growing area at his farm, because the Covid-19 epidemic showed no sign of letting up.
Krachai Khao, a traditional cooking ingredient, is now used by many people as a herbal drink to ward off or treat Covid-19. The price has jumped from 30-80 baht a kilo to 120 baht or more - to the delight of growers. (Photo: Chalit Pumruang)