Nepal | October 16, 2019

Yarsa pickers return empty-handed from Manang

Ramji Rana
In this recent photograph, tents set up by the yarsa pickers are seen in Phu of Manang district. Photo: Ramji Rana

In this recent photograph, tents set up by the yarsa pickers are seen in Phu of Manang district. Photo: Ramji Rana

MANANG: Most of the yarsagumba pickers in the district have returned home empty-handed this season, thanks to the scarcity of precious larva-fungus combination in the Himalayan meadows.

Yarsagumba, the caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis), is also known as Himalayan Viagra for its apparent medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.

As it fetches fortune in national and international market, people, especially the rural poor from different districts, venture out into the challenging Himalayan meadows to manually dig out the prized parasitic fungus.

A group of 25 people from Dhading district had made it to Bhraka of Manang to chance their luck, but failed to collect enough yarsa to make them rich.

Since the region did not witness any snowfall last winter, according to locals, yarsagumba had been a rare sight this season.

Last year, Kai Bahadur Tamang and his wife from Dhading had sold yarsagumba that they collected at Rs 200 to Rs 750 apiece last year.  They, however, had a hard time covering their expenses, pay their debts and even manage hand-to-mouth existence this time, according to Tamang.

Every year, people from Manang and other districts like Gorkha, Dhading, Lamjung, Nuwakot among others, come to collect yarsagumba in the mountainous district of Manang.

Meanwhile, the time permitted to collect yarsagumba in Nar and Phu VDCs in the district has been extended though the lucrative activity has already been halted in other places.

Following the murder of seven yarsa pickers in the district six years ago, the permission to collect yarsa in the two villages was banned for outsiders.


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