Hill economy stares at huge losses
The germination of ‘yarsagumba’, a medicinal herb formed from caterpillar fungus, is likely to affect this year due to scanty snowfall in the higher reaches of Dharchula and Munsiyari. It will also affect the local economy as yarsagumba fetches a good price in the retail and wholesale markets.
From April onwards and up to June-end, villagers from the Johar and Darma valleys of Munsiyari and Dharchula subdivisions of Pithoragarh proceed towards the Himalayan heights of Chiplakot to dug out the herb also known as cordyceps sinensis.
‘Yarsagumba’ is proving to be economically fruitful for the villagers of the upper Himalayan region where no other economic activity exists. However, scanty snowfall this year is most likely to affect the quantity and quality of the herb.
Chandra Singh Negi, Associate Prof of botany at the local PG College, said,” The caterpillar fungus requires the deposition of heavy snow in January and February to develop into high aphrodisiac quality. However, the situation is not favourable this time..
Negi said besides the scanty rainfall, other reasons were also contributing to a decline in the germination of the herb for the past few years.
He said ‘yarsagumba’ was found in the soil. However, the erection of tents by trekkers and sheep rearing was affecting the germination process.
Botanists say if the quality and quantity of ‘yarsagumba’ keep declining this way, it will affect the economy of border villagers.
The livelihood of residents of border villagers is totally dependent on the extraction and sale of the drug. “Villagers have even left their traditional occupation of farming and animal husbandry after finding the sale of ‘yarsagumba’ more profitable,” added Professor Negi.