Collectors pleased with yield and price

Resource: With a disappointing harvest last year, many assumed that cordycep availability would be even less this year prompting many to not go for collection.

However, not all were dissuaded. Forty-year-old Dorji of Tasa village in Dangchu went with his wife and sister to hunt for cordyceps. The three managed to collect around a kilogramme of the cordyceps fungus within a month-long permitted period.

Both the quality and quantity of the fungus was good, unlike what many presumed, said Dorji.

During the last two days he earned Nu 300,000 selling half a kilogramme of the fungus at the cordyceps auction held at Dangchu, and is expecting to earn more than Nu 300,000 for the other half at the ongoing auction at Gangtey and Sephu.

“This is a good income and much better then that last year where the family could earn only around Nu 100,000,” said the father of four school-going children.  “Cordyceps income is everything for us.”

Earlier the family reared yak but switched to the more lucrative fungi harvest nine years ago.

Dorji was one of the many collectors from Dangchu who were delighted with this year’s fungus collection and income.

Namgay, another Dangchu villager said he and his wife earned Nu 235,000 from selling 1,300 pieces of fungus. Their fungus was categorised as group ‘A’ quality.

Namgay said with little land holdings, they are mostly dependent on income from cordyceps.

Last year, the two earned only Nu 25,000, after spending a month in the mountains. It was difficult to even meet expenses for a month’s collection.

“Hiring of a horse cost us Nu 8,000 from Nobding till the collection site, which takes at least two-three days,” said Namgay. Apart from food and bedding, collectors also have to purchase raincoats, boots and plastic sheets to use during collection.

Some of the collectors are into both collection and the selling business, said Namgay. “I have a license and participate in auctions to sell outside.” This is how most collectors survive, especially those who do not have land holdings or other work.

Dangchu Gup Sonam Dorji said this time the gewog issued about 250 collection permits compared to 285 last year. This year the number of collectors has decreased as many thought there would be low yield.

This year the highest price fetched for a kilogramme of cordyceps in Dangchu was Nu 806,000 and lowest was Nu 265,000, said the gup. While the auction in Dangchu saw only around 40kgs of cordyceps, collectors were content with both collection and quality. Each household has earned on average Nu 200,000.

It was learnt that most of the collectors have already sold their cordyceps to  middlemen who either come at the collection site or to the doorstep of the collectors, said locals.

They said selling cordyceps from the collection-site is easier than bringing it to the auctions. Selling at the auctions require collectors to rub clean the fungus and dry it.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue