Nim Dorji | Trongsa
Chhoekhor gewog in Bumthang allocated Nu 1.2 milllion (M) for land development, provide greenhouses, connect farm road and provide electric fencing to 14 households of Nasiphel village.
The farmers, who depended on cereals like wheat, buckwheat and sweet buckwheat, did not show much interest to grow it since the legalisation of collecting cordyceps in the country in 2004.
Sources said cordyceps changed the lives of highlanders and the farmers in Nasiphel also became fully dependent on it. Many have abandoned farming practices although the place is favourable to grow the food grains.
Villagers said they would spend a month in the mountains, collecting fungus, and the money they fetch from selling it would last them a year.
They, however, said in the last few years, the yield of the cordyceps started to decline and the price also started to decrease. People could not sell cordyceps last year because of the pandemic and few who managed to sell fetched poor price.
Villagers said they now realised the need to look for alternatives, as the number of people collecting cordyceps is also increasing every year.
A farmer, Dorji Dema, with the price for vegetables and essentials increasing and the income from cordyceps decreasing, people are forced to look for alternatives.
The village tshogpa, Kencho Norbu, said that since the legalisation of cordyceps, people were least bothered to do farming, as everything was available from market.
“But, as the number of collectors increased and yield and price declined over the year, people started to realise not to only rely only on cordyceps but find alternatives such as doing farming and livestock,” he said.
According to the tshogpa, the gewog allocated fund to procure greenhouse every year and distributed to the people on a lucky dip basis.
Chhoekhor gup, Pema Dongyel, said they constructed a farm road as requested by people and people were asked to form a group to grow sweet buckwheat and produce flour. “The programme was also initiated to inspire people to revive farming.”