Locals make preparations for yarsha harvest seasonWith the onset of yarshagumba picking season, locals of mid-western district of Mugu have started making preparations to climb to highlands where the fungus, dubbed the Himalayan Viagra, grows.
With the onset of yarshagumba picking season, locals of mid-western district of Mugu have started making preparations to climb to highlands where the fungus, dubbed the Himalayan Viagra, grows.
Urgen Dorje Tamang and Sonam Tamang are two of the locals who are preparing to make a trip to high pastures to harvest the world’s most expensive herb, which can generate hundreds of thousands of rupees in income. Like the Tamang duo, locals of 12 villages, including Magri, Pulu, Rius, Takha, Khari, Kimri and Dolfu of Mugum Karmarong rural municipality are all set to travel to the places where yarshagumba grows.
Many of these people are now in Gamgadi, Mugu district headquarters, to purchase essentials like rice, salt, instant noodles, biscuit, wheat flour and cooking oil.
“We are making final preparations, as it’s time to harvest yarsha,” said Sonam, a local of Chayanathrara Municipality.
Locals of Mugu and other nearby districts throng Sano Koiki, Thulo Koiki, Rimar, Tanke, Hyajingthan, Haangdang Khola, Dolfu-lek and Daura-lek villages of Mugum Karmarong rural municipality to harvest yarshagumba during this time of the year. This increases movement of people in the rural municipality, which becomes deserted during the winter.
Pasang Guru Tamang of Khari village said he just returned from Kathmandu to make a trip to highlands of Mugum Karmarong rural municipality. Even people working in India are returning home to make sure they do not miss the once-in-a-year opportunity to collect yarshagumba.
“It feels like festive season, as homecoming rush has begun,” said Karma Tamang, chairman of Ward No 1 of Mugum Karmarong rural municipality.
People have to pay fees to enter areas where yarshagumba grows. The fee has been set at Rs1,500 for each resident of the district and Rs2,000 for every non-resident. Mugum Karmarong rural municipality will use the fund raised from herb collectors for development purpose. Yarsha collection generates revenue to the tune of Rs5.6 million to Rs7.2 million per year, which provides much-needed financial resources to the rural municipality to execute development works.
“We will mobilise adequate security personnel to areas where yasra grows to ensure there is no untoward incident,” said Chief District Officer of Mugu Umakant Adhikari.
Yarshagumba is the world’s most expensive medicinal fungus, and is used to cure anemia, chest and lung infections, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and kidney and liver diseases. It can fetch around $100 per gram on the Chinese market, making it more expensive than gold, according to reports.
This is the reason why hordes of collectors rush to the hills during the yarshagumba collection season. The effort put into yarsha collection does not go in vain, as there are examples of pickers earning enough to purchase real estate in district headquarters and relatively prosperous southern plains. Many yarsha pickers have also stopped visiting India to do menial jobs.
Yarshagumba harvest season starts in May and continues till June. During this time, thousands of people of Darchula, Dolpa, Jumla, Bajhang and Manang districts, among others, travel to high pastures to collect the tiny buds that protrude from the ground.
A study conducted by the central bank around two years ago had shown that each individual, who picks yarshagumba, earns an average of around Rs103,000 during the season, which is higher than the country’s per capita income. On an average, a family earns Rs277,000 per year, the study said.