The northern province of Quang Ninh has officially banned all sales of rare and precious plants to foreign traders.

The provincial People's Committee has asked the agricultural and science and technology sectors and local authorities to compile a list of rare and precious plants that would be banned from export, it said.

The move aims to stop the collecting, breeding and gene enrichment of rare plants by foreign traders.

In recent years, foreign traders, mainly from China, had purchased large quantities of Vietnamese crops such as champa rice, black sticky rice and Hoa Vang sticky rice, as well as fruit trees and herbal plants, local authorities said.

These traders have reportedly used different methods to acquire the plants under the guise of tourists and relatives. Some even paid in advance to collect as many plants as possible.

They also hired local people to transport the plants through the border.

Most precious plants were mixed with other ordinary varieties to avoid detection.

In Quang Ninh province, Chinese traders have been purchasing medicinal plants such as Phong Ba trees (Heliotropium foertherianum), Kim Tuyen orchids (Anoechilus roxburglihayata) and Ba Kich trees (Morinda officinalis How) for high prices since 2010.

For example, Kim Tuyen orchids are sold for 1.6 million VND (76 USD) per kilogramme, encouraging local people to over-exploit the trees in Binh Lieu district.

Vice Chairman of the Committee Dang Huy Hau said the purchasing activities of foreign traders were becoming more common and large scale.

Loose management of rare and precious plants, weak cooperation between authorised agencies and low awareness of local people had made the situation worse.

Pham Van Phat, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province would keep a close watch on the sale of rare plants to keep it under control.-VNA