Yarsagumba collectors happy as prices move up

Mahesh KC
Yarsagumba collectors are happy despite the hardships they suffered on the mountains while gathering the herb as prices have hit record highs this year.

The caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), which is prized for its supposed aphrodisiac properties, fetches Rs250 to Rs1,500 each. Last year, prices ranged from Rs100 to Rs1,100 each.

During the start of the picking season in Lumbini province in late May, hundreds were trapped in the snow for more than a month.

Renuka BK of Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality-1 had trekked to the highlands two months ago to search for yarsa. The collectors set up tents and spent months there during the harvest season.

“We waited until the snow melted and then started gathering yarsagumba at the beginning of June. It was difficult in the beginning, but we are happy because the price of yarsa has increased,” said BK.

Bhaga Kami, another collector from Janang in Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality-1, says they receive Rs250 to Rs1,500 each for the fungus, depending on the size and quality.

Yarsagumba is mainly found in the highlands of ward numbers 1, 2 and 3 in Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality.

Nimkhu, Fulbari, Guraghar Sir, Raman Dhuri, Sisneri, Majhila, Bhitriban, Kundala Arbija, Chaurikharka, Sangre and Chundaha are the key areas where yarsagumba is collected.

“In the past, the collecting season started in mid-April. Harvesting was delayed by a month this year due to untimely rains,” said Birman BK, ward chairman of Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality-1.

“Locals had starting the harvest in mid-March, but rain forced them to return to their villages. Hundreds of others waited on the mountain for nearly a month for the weather to clear,” added BK.

Most of the residents, except for the very young and the very old, climb to the highlands to collect yarsagumba during the harvest.

“The villages lie empty during the collection season,” said BK.

According to Ram Prasad Khadka, coordinator of the education department in Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality, schools were closed from June 5 to June 18.

“But students are yet to return to class. Most of them are still on the highlands collecting yarsagumba,” said Khadka.

Birendra Buda from Maikot says each individual collects five to 10 plants daily, which gives them a daily income of Rs1,200 to Rs15,000.

The collection season barely lasts a month. During this harvest season, there was unexpected snowfall.

“The rural municipality permitted only locals to collect yarsagumba this year as the weather hindered collectors from other districts,” said Jash Bahadur Sirpali, ward chair of Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality-2.

“Yarsagumba collected by locals are bought by local traders only,” added Sirpali.

Local trader Tak Lal BK says the rate depends on the quality. “The collection this year is low compared to past years, so the price has increased,” he said.

Collectors have to pay Rs2,000 per person as entry fee to go to the highlands.

“Thirty percent of the royalty goes to the rural municipality and the rest is spent on the security and management of the camps in the highlands,” said Gobinda Roka, president of the Yarsagumba Season Management Committee, a temporary committee that is formed each harvest season.

Madhav Prasad Sharma, chief district officer of East Rukum, says the local administration has mobilised the police for the security of locals for the last two months.

“Local youths are also coordinating with the police,” added Sharma.

Gathering yarsagumba is the primary source of income for locals in Nepal’s mid-western region.

The local government is concerned about preventing middlemen from profiteering from the yarsagumba collected by locals.

“We are also preparing to set a minimum price for yarsagumba collected in the region in coordination with the Yarsagumba Season Management Committee,” said Puni Raj Gharti, the ward chief of Putha Uttarganga Rural Municipality.

– The Kathmandu Post

Next Post

Provinces perform poorly in budget planning and implementation

Sun Jul 2 , 2023
Tweet Modnath Dhakal Kathmandu, July 2: Provinces have largely failed […]

Health Tips