DIPAYAL: You need not worry if you are penniless in the upper reaches of Bajhang. If you have some pieces of yarchagumba (cordyceps sinesis), you can purchase anything or pay your bill at local lodges and eateries.

People can use yarchagumba to barter goods and services at Dahabagar, Kanda and Kachali villages in Bajhang. From small teashops to big lodges, all accept yarchagumba instead of cash. The price of yarchagumba has been fixed at Rs 100 a piece.

“I have fixed the price of meal at my hotel at Rs 100 per person. But I am ready to accept a piece of yarchagumba instead of cash,” Pratap Bohora, a hotelier at Kachali VDC, said. He also said persons who don’t have any money could enjoy meal and services at his hotel if s/he had the prized herb.

Not only the hoteliers, contractors have also been exchanging foodstuff

with yarchagumba in the highlands. Dhale Khadka of Kanda said the contractors had also been exchanging foodstuff with the prized herb.

People from different parts of the district and even beyond throng to upper reaches of the district from the month of May till July to collect yarchagumba. Except elderlies and children, all members of the family visit the highlands to collect the prized herb. Over two dozen schools in the district have remained shut since the past one month, after the students and teachers rushed to the highlands to collect yarchagumba.

Bed Bhatta of Dipayal, who reached Dahabagar for his official works, said he ate food at a local hotel by giving yarchagumba instead of cash. The hoteliers at the highlands earn double than the yarchagumba collectors, according to the locals.

According to yarchagumba traders, the price of the herb in the district is Rs 6.5 lakh per kg. Interestingly, the prized herb has been distributed as prize in Deuda song competition and volleyball championship organised in the district many times.

Basanta Panta, DSP at District Police Office, Bajhang, said the cases of cheating yarchagumba collectors in the name of contractors were also on the rise.