Collectors not happy with price offered at Dangchu auction

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Days and weeks spent looking for cordyceps in the mountains of Tangchulay, Yango and Metha-Chutha this year had disappointed villagers of Dangchu gewog in Wangdue as the fungi they collected couldn’t be sold or price were poor at auctions.

At the auctions held in Dangchu on July 27 and 28, the poor price bidders offered left cordyceps collectors worried. A seller, Chogyel Wangmo sold her 150 pieces of the fungi for Nu 3,000. The same amount of fungi would have fetched her Nu 20,000 last year, she said. “I am really sad with the price. I am worried about this year’s expenditure.”

On July 27, the auction saw 51 sellers and six bidders. All bidders were people from Dangchu gewog, mostly from Nobding. Yesterday, there were over 40 sellers and 10 bidders.

If not for the Covid-19 restrictions on travel and export, Gyeltshen, a collector, said that exporters also took part in the auctions. At yesterday’s auction, Gyeltshen sold his 250 grams of class I category A (IA) fungi. IA category is the top quality cordyceps as rated by Common Standards of Quality for Cordyceps in 2019.

The standard rates fungi into class I to XI, with I being the best and XI the worst. In each class, the fungi are categorised into A, B and C depending on the colour of the fungi.

Gyeltshen said that his IA quality fungi would have fetched him a minimum of Nu 1.4 million (M) per kg in last year’s market. This year, he sold it for Nu 1.02M per kg.  “My 250 grams fetched me Nu 255,000 this year,” he said.

Buyers from the locality said that they were hesitant to buy the cordyceps as there were not many exporters. A local who participated as a bidder at the auction, Tashi Penjor, said that without the market ensured, buying the cordyceps were risky. “The buyers here are also not sure if they can risk buying the cordyceps. What if we can’t sell it?” he said.

Seeing the poor price, many sellers at the auction withdrew. On July 27, six collectors withdrew from the auction after hearing the price.

Others resorted to auctioning only a small quantity of their collection. Hoping to get a better price, the collectors are planning to take part in the next auctions, which will be held in Sephu and Gangtey gewogs in Wangdue.