Villagers defy rule in rush for Yarcha

- POST REPORT, DOLPA

May 10, 2014-A large number of people in the district are said to have entered the Shey Phoksundo National Park area and its buffer zone to collect Yarchagumba (Cordyceps sinensis) though the harvest season is set to begin officially on May 24 this year.

Local authorities said people entering the highlands illegally may be involved in poaching and smuggling of wildlife as they often carry weapons with them.

The system of official beginning of Yarchagumba harvest on the 10th day of the Nepali month of Jestha every year was introduced by local stakeholders, including the District Forest Office, forest users, national park authorities and security agencies, to regulate herb collection in the region.

People, however, are breaching the rule in the recent years to enter areas where the herb is found in plenty. Local Man Bahadur Rokaya said he saw groups of people collecting the precious herb when he went to his cow shed at Thage Patan recently.

Tek Bahadur Shahi of Kaigaun said the illegal collection of the herb is rife in Bhanka, Bhokpa, Thage, Jagdulla and Kagmara areas. He said Nepal Army personnel and the Yarchagumba collectors who entered the area illegally

had exchanged fires at Jagdulla last year.

Local residents said people might have gone to highlands quite early this year as they faced trouble last year due to a misunderstanding between the buffer zone management committee and the Nepal Army personnel. Though the committee allowed collectors to enter some areas, the security personnel indiscriminately thrashed all of them and seized around 10 kilograms of the herb.

“People went to collect the herb early this year as they feared that they would not be allowed to go there legally because of the last year’s

incident,” Sher Bahadur Budha, a civil society leader in Dolpa, said. He said the security personnel did not even return the seized herb to villagers. The revenue generated from the sale of the herb is the sole means of livelihood for most people in the region.

Meanwhile, District Education Officer Dharma-jeet Shahi said he is informed that the number of students at various schools across the district is decreasing of late as they have started going to highlands to collect Yarchagumba.

“Even the movement of people in Dunai Bazaar has decreased in the past couple of days,” he said.

Published: 11-05-2014 07:52

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