Income: Some Layaps have already started returning home despite their one-month permits not expiring given poor growth of cordyceps this year.

The collection was already delayed by a few weeks due to climatic conditions, said Laya Gup Kinley Dorji. Unlike previous years, the weather this year was much cooler.

Kinley Dorji said only 383 people came to get cordyceps collection permits, which was a significant decline compared to 580 issued last year.

He said since highlanders keep close watch on the fungus and were aware of the decline in growth, many had not come to avail permits.

While every household is entitled to three permits, many opted to take up other works rather than collecting the fungus.

Some collectors, Gup Kinley said had already returned before the expiry of their one-month permits. Collectors barely managed to collect 10 pieces a day compared to 20-30 pieces a day last year.

Cordyceps growth was not good in 2015 both in terms of quality and quantity, said highlanders. However, they are hopeful growth will improve every five years.

Laya has 11 designated areas for cordyceps collection.

Meanwhile, in Lunana the number of collectors remained the same as the previous year. Gup Gyembo Tshering said they issued permits to 300 people on May 21 and collectors would return on June 27. This includes seven days of travel.

Except for few, many were still collecting, he said. Unlike last year which saw an  unprecedented decline in cordyceps growth, they are expecting an increase in collection this year, Gup Gyembo said.

Expectations are also high in the gewogs of Khatoed and Khamey, which share one collection area in Langtephu. Collectors were happy with the growth this year, said Khatoed Gup Pema. Last year 15 to 20 collectors managed to collect a total of only 700 grams.

This year Khatoed gewog issued 40 permits compared to 15-20 last year, and Khamey issued 70-80 permits. The collectors are due to return on June 30.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue