Yarsagumba is considered to be a very valuable herb that grows from the organism of caterpillars. In the highlands, rainfed butterflies and their larvae hide in the weeds that grow on the slopes and cliffs to avoid the onset of snow.
The whole area is covered with snow. But when the snow melts and the weeds begin to grow, the vegetation begins to grow from the heads of those hidden insects.
Yes, these insects and the plants that grow in them are collected and sold at a very expensive price as Yarsagumba!This year’s season of picking yarsagumba, known in the northern Himalayan districts as ‘plants in the rain and insects in the winter’, has begun. Thousands of people from different districts, including children, are carrying larvae in the northern Himalayan districts.
Yarsagumba should be picked before the onset of monsoon. After the snow melts over twelve thousand feet, Yarshagumba begins to grow on the mountain slopes and cliffs. This is when it is collected.
The Yarsagumba, a valuable herb that is a source of income for 25 percent of the people in the Himalayas, does not seem to be a priority for the government. Although the Yarsagumba has been commercially collected and distributed in Nepal for the past two decades, the government has not yet been able to come up with a clear policy and law.
Yarsagumba is currently being established as a good source of income for thousands of people in about two dozen districts in the Himalayas. During the Yarsagumba collection, the entire family of the area is involved in the collection work.The government currently collects Rs 25,000 per kg in Yarsagumba. According to the Forest Department, 245 kg of yarsagumba was collected in Dolpa, 35 kg in Rukum and 338 kg in Bajhang in the fiscal year 2072/73 BS.
Similarly, 850 kg of yarsagumba was collected from Apinampa Conservation Area and 75 kg from She-Foksundo National Park, according to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
What is Yarsagumba?
Of the more than 700 medicinal herbs found in Nepal, Yarsagumba is the most valuable. Although this herb has been used in Chinese daily medicine for the past two centuries, it seems to have become familiar to the Nepali psyche only two decades ago.Currently, Dolpa, Darchula, Jumla, Humla, Mugu, Kalikot, Bajhang, Bajura, Jajarkot, Rukum, Rolpa, Baglung, Myagdi, Mustang, Manang, Lamjung, Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Sindhupalanchok, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Solukhumbu, Nepal Yarsagumba is seen to be produced in the high areas of 25 districts including Taplejung.
However, Dolpa, Darchula, Rukum and Bajhang Yarsagumba are important in terms of production and quality, say experts. According to him, only nine districts including Dolpa, Darchula, Jumla, Mugu, Sindhupalanchok, Rukum, Dhading, Jajarkot and Bajhang have been legally commercialized.The collection and export of 3.1 kg in FY 2058/59 has been gradually increasing. More than 500 species of Yarsagumba have been recorded worldwide, while 11 species of Yarsagumba have been identified in Nepal so far, according to the department. Yarsagumba is a parasitic fungus that grows by infecting larvae of the Lepidoptera class of the family Hepialidae.
Where to find Yarsagumba?
In Nepal, Yarsagumba is found in the snow-covered Himalayan meadows (Patan) ranging from 3,900 meters to 5,100 meters for six months of the year.It is used especially for asthma, tuberculosis, whooping cough, kidney, lung, impotence, treatment of blood pressure related diseases, fatigue reduction, development in the body’s ability to fight diseases, to prevent irregular bleeding.
Until 2058 BS, the collection, disposal and use of Yarsagumba was completely banned. However, realizing the importance of its production and entrepreneurs, the Forest Regulations have been amended as per the Nepal Gazette on December 3, 2008 and the Yarsagumba has been cleared for collection, disposal and use.
Studies and experience so far have shown that for the sustainable management of Yarsagumba, it would be appropriate to collect only 80 percent of the total production. China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan are its main market centers.Considering the importance of Yarsagumba, the Nepal Science and Technology Division (NAST) has started a detailed study for the first time. Nast has formed a team of three scientists to conduct research on the type, condition and quality of Yarsagumba.
Yarsagumba’s illegal trade on the rise
Currently, around 2,000 kg of Yarsagumba is exported to various countries through legal channels. However, experts in the field estimate that the annual production is 5,000 kg when the illegal exports are added.In order to evade the revenue of Yarsagumba, it has been smuggled illegally from the border of the Himalayan district to Tibet with great consequences. It is said that Yarsagumba is currently sold at Rs 2 to 2.5 million per kg in the international market.In this regard, Yarsagumba worth more than Rs. 1 billion has been collected and distributed from Nepal.
As yarsagumba is more important than other herbs in terms of business and revenue, the government should immediately come up with a clear policy and implement it.The Ministry of Forest and Environment has stated that arrangements have been made in the Forest Act, rules and directives for the collection and management of Yarsagumba.In order to control illegal smuggling, the Ministry has been coordinating with the security mechanism and taking necessary initiatives in bilateral discussions and meetings even in the border areas.
The more valuable the more dangerous!
As valuable as the Yarsagumba is, its collection is extremely difficult and dangerous. Thousands of villagers from far-flung villages or districts begin to ascend in May-July carrying lalabala and kumlo kuturo. The deserted mountainous region where Yarsa is found by locking the house begins to bloom.
Not only the trade of yarsa, but also the skin from food to clothes and from alcohol to gambling begins to freeze. The number of Yarsagumbas found in Kundin is clear from the cost of the evening furnace and the loss of skin.Clashes, robberies and thefts are considered normal in the tent settlements where people return after picking yarsa.
The people living in malaria are disturbed by the awkward cliffs, extreme cold, lakes and sudden snowfall. Their tripods can’t support the snow and the cloth can’t withstand the winter. Children and women are in trouble. In other areas, women and children are not valued, but they are considered to be experts in finding yarsa. So every family gives priority to children and women.
The revenue of the district where Yarsa is found has reached unbelievable crores of rupees.
Yarsa’s reputation is growing day by day. Yarsa is now being used not only as a herb, but also by those who have money and those who do not have it.
Yarsa, meanwhile, has moved beyond the realm of traditional use into food, clothing, rubbing and drinking. Yarsagumba is becoming a source of hope for many as it has not been touched by any other medicine and the vows of the gods have not been fulfilled.
Yarsha climbs the helicopter
Dolpa, Manang, Darchula and especially the western districts where yarsa production is high. The Yarsa collected in these mountainous districts is not a porter, horse or carriage, but first travels by helicopter to the capital Kathmandu and then by jet to international cities.
A few years ago, it was found that the contractor Man Bahadur was carrying 15 kg and Chiring Lama and 3 others were carrying 15 kg of yarsa from Darchula to Nepalgunj.
The traders had said that the price of Yarsa was Rs 10,000 per kg at that time. According to the contractor, we had to go to the mountains to buy 1.5 million rupees per kilogram. The price of yarsa is increasing every year.After the ban on Yarsa was lifted in 1958 BS, the collection and trade of Yarsa is gaining momentum. Initially, the District Forest Office used to collect tax at the rate of Rs 20,000 per kg. Later, after deducting taxes, the Ministry of Forests started collecting revenue of Rs 10,000 per kg
The medicine of insecurity
The higher the price of Yarsa Gumba, the more insecure its circulation becomes. That is why the traders who transport by helicopter every year say that the transportation fare is two to three lakh rupees at a time. It is growing. He said that many traders used to charter helicopters as they could not pay the freight alone.
Not only Darchula but also Humla, Mugu, Rukum, Sindhupalchok, Manang, Taplejung, Solukhumbu, Dolakha, Gorkha, Myangdi, Bajhang, Dhading, Mustang, Dolpa, Jumla etc. districts of Nepal. They live in Yarsa.
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