Skip to main content

Cordyceps business help boost rural economy but for how long?


Cordyceps - the magic worm

Dhur village in Bumthang has witnessed a radical transformation recently – all thanks to Chinese Caterpillar (Cordyceps sinensis). With legalization of Cordyceps collection to the highlanders few years ago, considerable positive impacts have been felt by the beneficiaries. This is one of the initiatives by the Hon’ble Agriculture Minister, Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho, in his attempt to enable communities derive maximum benefit from the natural resource base in the Country. The fungus collection has also considerably contributed towards alleviating poverty incidences which is the main theme of the 10th Five Year Plan. The poverty in Bhutan is predominantly of a rural phenomenon and the programme targets the rural beneficiaries. That is why it has greater potential comparatively to contribute towards current plan’s thrust towards poverty reduction.
The quadrupled annual income and complete physical transformation of the Dhur village in Bumthang can be directly attributed to cordyceps harvesting. From measly income few years ago from sales of animal products, the annual income of the Choekhor gewog has multiplied to staggering 7.5 million as claimed by Mr. Jigme Dorji, Geog Administration Officer (GAO). “Cordyceps collection entails little investments since it is grown naturally in the wild as compared to potato cultivation” said, GAO. He added that the income generation at household level ranges from 20,000 to 270,000 annually.
The constructions by the majority of new and better houses by the 90 Dhur households are all due to the harvesting of so-called Yartsa Guenbup (summer plant and winter worm) or Cordyceps.  People can now afford better housing, clothing, good food and maintain better sanitary all adds up to healthy living. Cordyceps is now helping the village of Dhur realize the government’s development philosophy of Philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
However, on the flip side, it is generally believed that cordyceps has encouraged the farmers to switch on to its collection and forget the traditional agriculture practice. Mr. Sangay Wangchuk with Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Forest & Environment Conservation said that cordyceps business has become so lucrative that at least 7-8 beneficiaries are solely dependent on the trade. While some more are into trucking, taxi driving & chain saw operation business. Few have set up retail shops.
Sustainability of livelihood due to such shift is questioned. This is because the growth and survival of the Chinese caterpillars are directly related to climatic conditions. With climate change impacts being felt ever greater with times, the cordeceps may not be a sustainable and reliable source of income for the farmers. It may not be wise to forget the traditional agriculture system after all.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thinley Dorji out for hunting ‘Buddha Mushroom’ in Blue pine Forests

Bumthanps in droves collects magic mushroom helping mint lots of money  All thanks to income he generates from selling Matsutake mushroom which Blue pine forests in Ura, Bumthang is endowed with, Thinley Dorji, 36 was able to put up decent roof over his head. This is in addition to the steady follow of money for educational expenses of his three school-going kids. But it is easier to be envious of such benefits than having to hear the whole lot of story behind the facade. It simply takes someone a whole lot of determinations and sacrifices in collecting the marvelous Matsutake mushroom. Thinley wakes up early, from the shed he spent his other night guarding his potato crops from wild animals. Believing that “early bird catches most worms,” he needs to be in the forests ahead of all other folks. Otherwise, what is grown will have to be shared among the parade of collectors. "Lucky for him, there was a light drizzle, the other night and Thinley heads out optimistic of the good

An unending war in Wangling battlefield

It is mid-summer and Goshing Wangling, a remote village in Zhemgang has transformed into an extraordinarily beautiful hamlet. The quaint little hamlet has turned extravagantly lush with tropical vegetation fencing the village while the inside is chock-full with different varieties of agriculture crops growing green and fresh. It is possible to literally hear the butterfly wing beat and feel the soft seasonal breeze transport to some magical land of peace and plenty far away from the crowd of modern settlements. The vista stretches far beyond the little settlements. One wonders that if Wangling can contain and give so much, what amazing wealth of floral and faunal beauty could exist between the tall, splendid mountains faraway and the vast spotless azure sky behind them.  Peace that appears to reign so abundantly in this small village, however is not absolute. Hidden behind the façade lies a chronic problem. "The Wangling farmers have to constantly face rampaging wild animals tha

An honour of delivering His Majesty’s 'Soelra'

Have you ever tried, even once, to stand outside in winter for few hours? Ok, let me be more lenient. Let’s keep it for few minutes? I’m pretty sure that a minute or two out in cold would send anyone rushing back to heater or Bukhari. "Concerned that Desuups have to brace the unforgiving winter cold, His Majesty's Soelra was bestowed with supply of firewood" It so happened that when lockdown 2.0 in Bhutan was imposed due to community outbreak in December last year, the temperature was plummeting especially in Thimphu. During such time, Desuups came forward in large number in spirit of volunteerism to ensure lockdown protocols are adhered by general public. "When many people got bored locked inside their home, we were daily engaged in such tiring work" The nature of duty during such time entailed carrying out patrolling, guarding certain area, unloading of essentials, to name few. But the guarding of ‘red buildings’ I personally noticed was really challenging.