Local herb production declines in Bajura

BAJURA: Production of local herbs has dropped with the possible extinction of endangered species and vegetation in Bichchhaya area located in Himali Rural Municipality ward 1,2 and 3 of Bajura district.

The district is famous for locally grown herbs. However, of late, many such plants are on the verge of extinction.  Varieties of herbs are dying out as smuggling of vegetation has gone rampant in the district, according to member of Consumers' Committee of Himali Community, Brikh Bahadur Bhandari.

Bichchhaya, a remote area in Bajura, occupies about 40 per cent of the total area of the district. Forest constitutes 48 per cent of the area in the district. Satuwa, wild garlic, Kutki, Paanchaule, Sugandhawal, Jatamasi, Bishjara, Chiraito, among other endangered species of herbs are found in the district.

'Paanchaunle', a rare endangered species of orchid called 'Dactylorhiza hatagirea' found in the mountain region has been barred by the government from being collected. Jhyau, Kurilo, Pakhanved, Ritha, Kaulo, Tejpaat, Bojho, Kachur, Timmur, Allo, Lokta, Lauthsalla, Chutro, Nigalo (a type of bamboo), Bhutkesh, varieties of mushrooms, Sungabha are among other species that form flora in Bajura.

Around 200 species of herbs are found in several other districts like Humla, Mugu, Dolpa and Bajhang. The herbs production has dropped in these districts due to illegal collection of herbs and also because of massive deforestation.

"Once there was abundance of herbs in the areas of Bichchhaya, Rugin, Jukot, Wai, Sappata, Gotri, Jagannath, Kolti, Dahakot, Pandusain, Kailashmandau, Aatichar, Manakot," Himali-3 ward chair Dhyane Bahadur Rokaya said and added that the locals used to earn an income of Rs 500,000 to Rs 5 million from collecting herbs. "But now, the plants are threatened with extinction due to rampant smuggling and wildfire.

Meanwhile, local residents have complained that local and federal forest division offices responsible for regulation and control of herbs collection and sales have kept mum on the issue. A local resident of Bichchhya, Anga Lal Thapa alleged that contractors in cooperation with forest consumers' committee were collecting herbs more than the permitted quantity of herbs collection.

According to contractors, plants with medicinal value worth Rs 200 million are collected every year. On the other hand, according to the Division Forest Office, herbs worth Rs 100 million are being collected as of now. Likewise, the contractors have been reported to be duping in revenue.

According to Forest Division Office, Bajura, 15 species of herbs weighing 264,304 kilograms of were collected in the district while the permission was issued for collecting only 49,465 kg of herbs in the fiscal year 2074/75 BS.