Medicinal herbs worth Rs400 million exported

- BASANTA PRATAP SINGH, Bajhang
Bajhang shipped out 296 kg of yarsagumba valued at Rs390m in the past seven months

Mar 4, 2016-Bajhang exported medicinal herbs worth Rs400 million in the last seven months. India and China are the major markets for the medicinal plants collected in the district. 

The herb yarsagumba, popularly known as Himalayan Viagra, is the top export. Bajhang shipped out 296 kg of yarsagumba valued at Rs390 million, the District Forest Office said. Yarsagumba fetches up to Rs1.3 million per kg. 

Similarly, 2,200 kg of pashbed, 200 kg of sugandhwal, 200 kg of bojo, 30 kg of kankadsilo, 40 kg of bhrigiraj and 41 kg of gujargano were exported from the district, the office said. 

“The office has collected Rs3.1 million in revenue from herbs,” said Ashok Shrestha, the district forest officer. According to locals, exports of herbs have dropped this year due to unmanaged collection and a drop in demand. 

Earlier, there used to be huge demand for herbs like rittha, wild mushroom, bish jara, chiraito, tejpat and gooseberry, among others. However, demand for these medicinal herbs has slowed. 

Last year, 113 tonnes of 18 different herbs were exported from the district. The forest office had collected Rs5.5 million in taxes. The largest export was yarsagumba, which amounted to 356 kg worth Rs520 million. 

Dan Bahadur Surmeli, a local vendor, said that demand for yarsagumba had shrunk this year too.  

Smuggling increasing

BHAWANI BHATTA

KANCHANPUR

Smuggling of banned high-value herbs to India has been increasing, and illegal traders have been using porters to transport various herbs in the night, locals said. 

Large quantities of rare herbs like jatamasi, panchaaule, kutaki, kaladana and jhyau, among others, are being smuggled to India. Indian herb traders wait with trucks on the other side of the border. 

The contraband is then dispatched by truck to different parts of India. 

According to officials, they are aware of the illegal trade that has been going on, but they are unable to catch the smugglers because they get advance warning of the planned raids.  “Last month, we got a tip that a large quantity of kutaki was being smuggled, so forest officials and armed police personnel went to the place ,” said Jibchha Yadav, assistant forest officer. “The smugglers had somehow received information that we were coming, and they had fled by the time we got there.” 

Kutaki cannot be directly exported without permission from the Forest Department. Similarly, the collection of panchaaule is also prohibited while only the extract of jatamasi can be exported. 

Smuggling cannot be controlled unless security is deployed permanently, said security officials. “We have mounted a couple of raids, but the smugglers are always long gone when we get there,” said Netra KC, DSP of the Armed Police Force.

Published: 04-03-2016 09:10

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