Cordyceps sinensis commonly known as Chinese caterpillar is most precious gift nature can have for human mainly because this ‘summer-plant, winter-worm’ thing is highly prized for its medicinal properties. In Bhutan, highland nomadic communities are the principal beneficiaries of such nature’s exceptional gift after government legalized its collection. While we cannot deny that the income from the sale of the cordyceps have paramount positive impacts on livelihoods of the highlanders, not every earner would spend the money judiciously.
"Nomadic communities are the principal beneficiaries of such nature’s exceptional gift"
As grapevine goes, more money means luxurious life. Some rich nomads are known to own two to three houses. This can be adduced from the number of new houses that have sprouted in the village. Recent polygamous habits among the nomadic men can also be linked to accumulation of more wealth from the cordyceps. Hence, men in Laya build new house for every new wife they marry.
"But the male and the younger generations never listen to us since they’re completely into the archery game"
Asked about how the average households spend the cash income from Cordyceps, Pem Dechay, a native of Laya said “We normally buy essentials such as rice, salt, vegetables oils and other food items. But the male and the younger generations never listen to us since they’re completely into the archery game. They prefer buying compound bows and accessories even if it means compromising food items.”
"Almost all the men possess a set of foreign archery accessories"
The archery range constructed randomly within the proximity of the Laya village is also proof enough that more Layaps are into playing archery with compound bows. Almost all the men possess a set of foreign archery accessories, which doesn’t come lower than Nu.20,000/-.
Besides, Layaps carry more complicated electrical gadgets than any other average urban dwellers. They own latest model cell phones, mp3 players, electrical appliances at homes and other technological inventions – all thanks to huge extra income from the cordyceps. And sometime such luxurious gadgets are chosen over basic human needs.
"One quizzical question is how much income from cordyceps is contributing towards government’s noble intention of poverty reduction?
All this triggers to ask oneself one quizzical question. How much is the income from cordyceps contributing towards government’s noble intention of poverty reduction?
Sources say that the Cordyceps is most widely used as a dietary supplement, which naturally grows on the back of the larvae of a caterpillar from the moth Hepialus armoricanus. The mycelium invades the caterpillar and eventually replaces the host tissue. The stroma (fungal fruit body) grows out of the top of the caterpillar. The remaining structures of the caterpillar along with the fungus are dried and sold as the dietary supplement cordyceps.