Dying chuba worries Sephu farmers

Resource: Chuba, a species of bamboo that grows in Sephu, Wangdue, is dying. Chuba dies every after hundred years. Its death begins with flowering that lasts for about three years.

Mani, an elderly villager from Nakha in Sephu remembers village men making different bamboo products for the good part of the year.

“With limited landholding, most of the people depended on bamboo products. We used to spend about eight months weaving bamboo products for sale,” said Mani.

People still weave bamboo mats to dry grains, storage baskets called lagchung, bamboo bag called bazi to carry husk and rice, and changshor, which is used to store fermented grains.

“We spend about three months in Punakha, Wangdue, Thimphu and Paro selling the bamboo products,” said a villager.

Mani said it was after the legalisation of Cordyceps collection in 2004, most of the villagers stopped making bamboo products. And the chuba is now dying.

A Nakha villager said that there was a time when houses around Sephu were not visible as they were covered by hundreds of bamboo plants.

Rinchen, a villager, said income from cordyceps is not reliable. And not everyone in the village goes to collect the fungus.

“If there is bamboo, the younger ones could collect the fungus, women could work in the field and others make bamboo products,” said Rinchen.

Sangay, an elderly woman, worries about old bamboo fence around her house. She doesn’t know what to replace it with.

“We want to continue the tradition of making bamboo products and passed it down to the younger generations. Bamboo had played and continues to play a vital survival role for us,” said Sangay.

Mani and his friends are hopeful that small buds on the bamboo in the nearby forest might grow so that villagers can continue with their age-old tradition.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Nakha

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