DARCHULA, July 9: Yarsagumba collectors who spent more than a month in the highlands have come home disappointed due to the decrease in production of the prized herb.
According to the collectors, the production of yarsagumba, a herb with purported aphrodisiac properties, has reduced significantly in Darchula this year. This year, locals could collect only half of what they did in the past. Some of them lament that the yarsagumba collected by them is not even enough to recover their investment. Collectors had swarmed to various hills of Api Rural Municipality with high hopes of making good fortune.
On May 5, Danmati Mahara of Marma Rural Municipality-4, Barku headed toward the hills to gather yarsagumba clutching her nine months old baby. Despite all the difficulties, she had gone to the hills with a desire of making money for her family and herself. Unfortunately, she had to return home wearing a disappointed look as her gamble didn't turn as good as expected.
However, she is not the only one to return home without enough yarsagumba as the story of hundreds of other collectors is the same. As informed by Mahara, until last year, she used to collect at least 500 pieces of yarsagumba but this year she could just collect 200 of them.
The decrease in number of yarsagumba is attributed to wildfires, dumping of plastics as well as digging the forest for wild garlic and other herbs, according to the locals. Yarsagumba is the only source of income for many locals living in mountainous region. Bishan Singh Budhathoki, one of the locals of Api Himal-3, Setola informed that most collectors are worried thinking how they will manage their annual expenses now.
In the past, villagers used to make around Rs 500,000 by selling yarsagumba but this year they will say they can hardly make Rs 100,000. They are worried of losing their only source of income if irrational human activities are continued in the forests. Collectors also vented their ire against environment conservationists for neglecting forest encroachment and pollution.
They have accused Api-Nampa Conservation Area Office, Darchula, as well as the rural municipality and other stakeholders of only concentrating on collecting tax instead of making efforts to protect the valuable herb. Global warming and irrational human activities are the reasons why production of yarsagumba is decreasing every year, experts say. This season, around 8,000 people had gone to the hills with the expectation of collecting altogether 820 kg yarsagumba.