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Yarchagumba mission comes unglued

DARCHULA, JUN 05 - It’s not mission accomplished for Yarchagumba collectors this time around. Those who had climbed up to highlands to collect this precious herb, Cordyceps Sinensi, have started returning home.

Like past year, people had high expectations for brisk Yarcha collection. But

many of them had no idea that there was a bit of a shock in store for them this year. “We returned home as we could not even collect more than 10 pieces of Yarchagumba in a month,” said Nar Bahadur Bohara from Baitadi who was among dozens of Yarcha pickers.  

“Those who had collected 150 to 200 pieces last year could make it up only 20 to 30 pieces,” he said. Being in the same boat, Yarchagumba collectors of Khandeswori and Ghusa VDCs in Darchula put off their mission for some days. “While our colleagues have fanned out in search of Yarchagumba, we returned. The search will continue for another one and a half weeks,” said Narendra Thekare of Khandeswori.

An increasing flow of Yarcha pickers, haphazard collection of the prized herb and climate change have been attributed the cause of Yarcha scarcity. “There is no rainfall since two months in the highlands and snowfall is very thin. Production of Yarchagumba is declining over the past five years. If this situation remains for

some years, Yarchagumba might be vanished,” said Thekare.

People go to the highlands to collect Yarchagumba from the end of April to June. Yarcha transaction has increased lately after traders started purchasing the herb at home.

Chief of Darchula-based Api Nampa Conservation Area, Lal Birhai Yadav, said authorities collected around Rs 7.3 million in revenue from the export of Yarchagumba last fiscal year.

A recent study carried out by researcher Uttam Babu Shrestha, a PhD scholar at the University of Massachusetts and a research associate at Harvard University, says Yarchagumba is declining considerably in the country.

The study, carried out in Dolpa from May to August 2011, shows that the average per capital harvest of the medicinal caterpillar fungus has decreased from 267 pieces per person in 2006 to 125 pieces in 2010. Shrestha attributed the cause of decline to over-harvesting, premature harvest, overgrasing, unavailability of the host larvae and climate change, among other reasons. Meanwhile, similar researches carried out in Bhutan, India and Tibet also showed decline of Yarchagumba harvest.

Yarcha collectors sweating bullets

DOLPA: With their highland tour to collect the prized herb not living up to expectations, Yarcha collectors are a worried lot. Gobinda Malla from Jajarkot, who went to Gyalawara Patan in Dolpa in search of Yarchagumba, said some people are hardly collecting one to six pieces of the herb a day. He is worried about how to cover the money spent on travelling, entry fees and logistics. District Forest Officer of Dolpa Bhaktaraj Giri said Yarchagumba collectors have started returning after their failed mission.

21-yr-old man dies of cold

MUGU: A Yarchagumba collector fell prey to freezing cold in the highlands and died. The deceased has been identified as Dhan Bahadur Buda, 21, of Patmara VDC, Jumla. Meanwhile, many Yarchagumba pickers have fallen sick due to cold. Most of them are children. An official at District Public Health Office, Birkha Bahadur Shahi, said medicines and health workers have been dispatched to treat the victims.

Posted on: 2012-06-06 08:01

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