Male Iron Rat Year

Phurpa Lhamo | Gasa

Troubles for highlanders of Gasa began right from the beginning of the Year of the Rat.

Selling cordyceps became a challenge with the movement restrictions placed in the country following the Covid-19 cases. This burdened the highlanders, who already had a limited period to move from their homes to lower areas due to the harsh weather.

Although the efforts were made to connect highlanders with buyers, the cordyceps fetched poor price. And many chose not to sell their produce.

Longer movement restrictions further worried the highlanders as food supply started to run short. Every year, the highlanders moved to the low lands to sell cordyceps and to bring home food supply to last the cold winter.

However, when the lockdown was announced on August 11 last year, many people from Laya and Lunana couldn’t follow the routine.

Wangdue, Punakha and Gasa dzongkhag administrations took initiative to help the highlanders in the coming days. Food supply was sent from Sephu gewog in Wangdue and Goensahri in Punakha.

Just as the food supply for Lunaps was made available, the highlanders had to worry for their domestic animals. As the year came to an end, many highlanders were stuck in Lunana. While some chose to remain home, others had financial issues.

Their decisions would be fatal for their animals mainly horses as they would starve without any fodder. For those who made it to the low lands, they had no money.

The dzongkhag administration explored to promote agriculture striving for self-sufficiency. Civil servants and the monks made kitchen gardens. Land was developed and farmers were encouraged to cultivate more. Greenhouses and seeds were also supplied to highlanders.

Income for the popular Gasa tshachu was severely affected due to the pandemic.