Highlanders asked to form groups and register to legalise collection

Plant: Local leaders of Gasa requested the government to consider legalising collection and selling of Picrorhiza plant (putishing), during the seventh dzongkhag tshogdu, yesterday.

Local leaders said although not permitted, people have been collecting putishing, with some even being caught in the illegal act. They also accused people from outside the dzongkhag of encroaching Laya and Lunana gewogs to collect the medicinal plant.

They said people who were collecting it currently were not permitted but were harvesting it on a large scale, which could be destructive. If legalised it would help initiate sustainable harvest besides allowing local people make some additional income, said local leaders.

Picrorhiza plant (Courtesy: indianetzone)

Picrorhiza plant (Courtesy: indianetzone)

Gasa dzongdag Dorji Dhradhul said there was no issue from the government.  “The system of legalising the collection was already there but harvest has to be done following proper procedures,” he said.

The dzongdag said since putishing is a medical plant it is categorised as restricted plant species. However, he suggested forming groups and register with the forestry department.

During the tshogdu, foresters and dzongkhag officials explained how they could legalise the collection. The dzongdag cited example of a community group in Genekha, Thimphu, who collects Sangay shamu (masutake) and allows only local residents to become member. The group is registered and does not allow outsiders to collect the prized mushroom.

“Having a community group would help maintain a sustainable harvest and would refrain outsiders from collecting the plant,” he said.

The local leaders agreed forming a group and getting it registered, but they requested the government to help with marketing.

The dzongkhag would help look for market. “Currently since it is not legal, people might be selling or exchanging with other goods through black market, but now government is going to help find markets,” he said.

Laya gup Kinley Dorji said while they didn’t know whether people took it across the border in the north or to Phuentsholing, they did hear about many people collecting putishing as an alternative source of income.

If caught collecting the plant, people a fine of Nu 5,000 besides seizing the plants, according to the gup.

Kinley Dorji said Layaps had been collecting the plant to be taken as a gift while they migrate to warmer places in Punakha and Wangdue in winter. Since the plant is a medical herb, people directly ate it or soaked it in water and drink it to cure flu and cold.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue


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