Yarsagumba harvest rush deserts Bajhang schools

BAJURA: With villagers including children streaming into high meadows of the region in pursuit of a rare aphrodisiac fungus, tagged ‘Himalayan Viagra’, more than fifty schools in Bajhang district have shut down operations for upcoming three months.

Moreover, annual rush to harvest Yarsagumba has emptied many rural municipalities in the region, locals said.

“Considering the harvest season, schools have not resumed since end of last academic session on March,” local Dabal Rokaya said. “Apart from schools, villagers in pursuit of fungus, growing from dead moth larvae, have padlocked their houses to camp on the highlands.”

The annual harvest of Yarsagumba, found protruding as tiny buds only above 3,500 meters (11,480 feet), serves as a major income source for denizens of the region. In this backdrop, villagers including children and senior citizens have hiked to high pastures to collect highly valued fungus.

Although, government agencies collect millions in revenue from permits to participate in picking Yarsagumba in the region, schools bear up negative consequences.

“Apart from regular holidays and festivals, schools remain closed during three months of picking season and three months during winter leaving us barely four months to study at schools” students said.

The highlands in the region witness a flock of 20,000 to 30,000 people including Yarsagumba collectors and traders arriving from Dang, Surkhet, Rukum, Rolpa, Kathmandu, India and Tibet in the picking season.