Bringing transparency to fungi collection

To ensure that the govt. receives the royalty it is entitled to

Cordyceps: To encourage highlanders to declare their total cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) collection faithfully and to pay royalty to the government, agriculture ministry has made marketing methods for the prized fungus flexible.

Whether a collector participates in an auction or not, he or she has to pay a royalty of Nu 8,400 for a kilogram of cordyceps collected.  The royalty of Nu 8,400 and permit fee of Nu 510 was revised last year, subject to 20 percent increment once every two years.

The Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS) issues a certificate of origin to the collectors at the end of collection month that has details of collection quantity.  If a collector fails to declare his or her collection, fungus will be seized and fines imposed on the defaulters.

Local leader said that since certificate of origin is not issued at the site of collection, highlanders do not declare their collection.  To avoid paying royalty, collectors later sell undeclared collection to local and international buyers.

Local leaders also said that last year’s total collection could have been more than 1,000kg.  But only 671kg of cordyceps worth about Nu 469M was auctioned.

“We’re not concerned where they sell or who they sell their cordyceps to. Royalty has to be paid,” said a gup from Wangdue. “Royalty evasion results in a huge revenue loss for the government.”

Certificate of origin, if not issued at the site of collection, it allows collectors to engage in illegal trade of fungus. Also, collection entered in the certificate and quantity brought for auction does not match, resulting in some collectors having to pay penalty.

Dangchu gup Sonam Dorji said that gewog offices are the most appropriate authority to issue to certificate of origin to do away with illegal trade of cordyceps and to encourage collectors to declare actual collection.

Forest officials at the collection sites will issue the certificate.  Gewog officials can also do so depending on accessibility.

Cordyceps marketing guidelines say that presence of police personnel will also be required at auction sites.

Lingshi gup Wangdi said the number of foresters patrolling the cordyceps collection site is less.  To ensure safety of the highlander during collection season, there is a need to increase the number of foresters, he added.

Kazhi gup said that highlanders face various problems at collection sites. “Theft and robbery, among others, are problems that occur frequently.”

Bidders will have to register to participate in this year’s auction from May 1 to 30. Auction will begin from July 1 in Lhuentse.

Bidders will have to pay registration fee of Nu 1,000.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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