Chencho Dema

WANGDUE — The annual cordyceps auction in the dzongkhag has concluded with a striking eight-fold decrease in collection compared to the previous year, amounting to a staggering 700 percent reduction in yield.

The event, overseen by the  Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives, saw only 69 kg of cordyceps worth Nu 70.2 million being auctioned, compared to a substantial 409.9 kg in the preceding year and 151.16 kg in 2020.

The cordyceps auctions were not held in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s auctions took place at various gewog centres, with Kazhi and Dangchu gewogs hosting their respective auctions and Sephu and Gangtey gewogs participating in the auction held at the Sephu centre.

On July 12, the first auction was held in Kazhi Gewog, witnessing a significantly reduced yield of only 1 kg for auction, in contrast to the 7.3 kg auctioned last year.

During this event, out of one kg, a total of 530 grams was auctioned, while 480 grams were withdrawn, with the highest bid reaching Nu 1,621,000 and the lowest at Nu 586,000.

A total of 13 sellers who had collected the prized fungus from the gewog, along with 10 buyers, participated in the auction.

The following day, Dangchu Gewog’s auction took place, resulting in a total of 24.2 kg being auctioned, of which 8.4 kg were withdrawn. The highest bid during this event was Nu 1,055,000, and the lowest was Nu 480,000.

A group of 22 collectors and five bidders participated in this year’s auction, a slight decline from last year when collectors brought 200.8 kg to the auction.

The Sephu Gewog Centre hosted the final cordyceps auction from July 15 to 17, featuring a combined offering of 43.7 kg from Gangtey and Sephu. Out of this, 37.5 kg were sold, and 6.2 kg were retained. 

The highest bid reached an impressive Nu 5,100,000, with the lowest bid settling at Nu 580,000.

This year, a total of 150 collectors and 28 bidders were involved in the auction.

In 2022, inclusive of Gangtey and Sephu gewogs, the cordyceps auctions featured 354 kg, with 60.8 kg withdrawn and 293.2 kg successfully auctioned.

The highest bid recorded during this period amounted to Nu 208 million, while the lowest stood at Nu 360,000.

The residents of Sephu and Gangtey were granted 671 permits, and the region saw a total of 425 collectors.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture and Marketing Co-operatives acknowledged that collectors have the option to withdraw their cordyceps if they are dissatisfied with the prices offered at auction.

The reduction in quantity this year has been attributed to several factors, including an excess of collectors and unauthorised harvests by non-residents of the gewog.

The Dangchu gup, Phub Dorji, noted that last year’s bumper harvest season, which occurs every five years, led to a significant surge in quantity. However, this year’s harvest is anticipated to be lower, with expectations of improvement in the upcoming years until the next bumper harvest, forecasted for 2027.

Despite this year’s challenges, experts foresee a positive outlook for the future of cordyceps collection, as they project the harvest to grow progressively in the coming years.