Locals earn more collecting Yarsa than any other activitiesYarsagumba, also known as Himalayan Viagra, has been bigger source of income than other economic activities for its collectors.
Yarsagumba, also known as Himalayan Viagra, has been bigger source of income than other economic activities for its collectors.
An individual earns Rs103,000 per year on an average by selling the herb, higher than the average per capita income from other economic activities, according to a Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) study. On an average, a family earns Rs277,000 per year — 56 percent of its total yearly income.
Although there is so scientific evidence, the small fungus is prized in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicines as a tonic to increase vigour. It is used to cure anemia, infections in chest and lungs, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, and kidney and liver diseases.
During the annual May-June picking season, thousands of Nepali villagers travel on mules and yaks to high pastures to collect the tiny buds that protrude from the ground. In 2014, a total of 152,2000 individuals went to collect the valuable herb.
The central bank conducted the study in five busiest transaction centres of Darchula, Dolpa, Jumla, Bajhang and Manang districts where 95 percent of the transactions take place as per the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.
NRB surveyed 10 collectors and five traders from each transaction centre as well as district chambers, district forest offices and District Development Committees.
Although Yarsagumba collection has been a good source of income, the NRB study found the traders benefited more than the collectors. A trader was found to have earned Rs1.31 million per year on an average, purchasing and selling an average of 12.09kg in the period between 2012 and 2014. The traders were found to have purchased Yarsagumba at Rs1.43 million per kg and sold at Rs1.54 million.
According to the report the herb fetched $100,000 (Rs10.7 million) per kg in China and $130,000 (Rs13.92 million) per kg in Singapore. The largest market is China, while the herb is also sold in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, the UK and the US, according to NRB.
The NRB study stated the trend of collecting and selling Yarsagumba not only boosted the people’s incomes, but also helped increase economic activities in the areas.