GORKHA, June 3: The settlements in the northern parts of Gorkha district are almost deserted at present. Hardly any youths can be seen here. Apart from teachers, elected representatives and employees of firms and organizations, those settlements do not have any population between the age of 20 to 50.
“They have gone to pick yarasgumba since last month,” said Man Bahadur Gurung. “The yarasa-picking season runs until July. Most of them will return only during Dashain festival.”
Dharche and Chumbreni rural municipalities share the border with Tibet. Yarsagumba, prized herb for its aphrodisiac properties, are found around those bordering region before the monsoon season. Almost every household in those village get involved in collecting yarsagumba, which fetch them a good income.
Devastated by the catastrophic earthquake of 2015, which had its epicenter in Gorkha's Barpak, most of the households plan to use the income from yarsagunba to repay loans that they took for reconstruction of their houses.
Dhan Kumar Ghale, chairperson of Kasigau, Dharche-6, said most of the households had taken loans for reconstruction as the government's housing grant was too little. “The area is very remote. Locals have to pay lots of money to transport construction materials, due to which they have taken loans,” he said, adding that many households would be using the income to repay loans.
“With majority of the population absent, mostly elderly and small children are left in the villages,” he added.
In the previous years, schools used to remain shut due to lack of students, most of whom followed their elders to collect yarsagumba. This year, however, the local unit has warned students not to miss classes by threatening them to cut their benefits, informed Ghale.
According to Kamal Ghale, a local, spending two months in Manag to pick yarsagumba would earn them Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 after deducting all the expenses for travel, accommodation and taxes.
“Our family took loans to reconstruct our quake-ravaged house. Picking yarsagumba is the only source of income, enabling us to repay loans,” he said. Along with Rs 300,000 provided by the government, his family has a loan of Rs 200,000. Many households have similar plights.