Permits issued to collect Yarsa in Fuka Lake

Manang, May 26: The Yarsa collection in Manang’s Namkekharka started on April 22 as the first destination, and Fu village has also received permission to collect Yarsa from May 27 as the second destination.

Chairperson of Narpa Bhumi Rural Municipality Konjo Tenzing Lama informed that only those who had obtained a permit would be allowed to collect Yarsa starting Monday.

He said that those with permits would be able to collect Yarsa (Chinese caterpillar fungus) in the Fuka Lake for a month. He also said that they were working to organise the Yarsa collection process by learning from past experience.

Lama said, “Since Narpa Bhumi’s Nar and Fu are both protected and restricted areas, we have decided to allow only the locals of Manang to collect Yarsa to avoid security issues like in the past. Currently, Yarsa collection is only permitted in the lakes of Fu village.”

A charge of Rs. 35,000 must be paid for the collection permit. After paying the fee, a permit is issued for the collection. Lama informed that 60 per cent of the revenue collected from Yarsagumba collectors in the Fuka Lake would be kept by the conservation area management committee, and the remaining 40 per cent would be kept by the rural municipality. Additionally, there will be another 10 per cent export tax per kilogram of collected Yarsagumba.

Security strengthened 

To prevent conflicts during the Yarsa collection period, security measures have been strengthened. Under the coordination of Narpa Bhumi Rural Municipality, a team of five police officers from the Khyakhu Police Post has been deployed to ensure peace and security for Yarsa collectors in Fu village. 

Since there are no permanent police posts in Fu, this team will stay in Fu for a month to provide security to the collectors, Lama informed.

In 2009, seven people from Gorkha were killed by locals while searching for Yarsagumba in Namkekharka. Due to security challenges, Yarsa collection was halted in the previous Nar and Fu village development committees of Manang. To prevent such incidents from recurring, permission has not been granted to collectors from other districts.

Chief District Officer Subash Kumar Lamichhane said that security arrangements had been tightened as the Yarsa collection season begins in the district. He said, “Although a team of five police personnel may not be able to provide complete security, their presence is meant to assure collectors that they can collect Yarsa safely.”

He added, “Only locals of Manang have been allowed to collect Yarsagumba in Fu this time to prevent any unpleasant incidents. If any issues arise, the first action will be taken against the conservation area management as per the law.”

The agreement has been signed between security personnel and the management committee about timely communication, necessary support, and coordination. Yarsa collection is only permitted after obtaining approval from the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) office.

Dhak Bahadur Bhujel, Chief of the ACAP Manang, said that permission had not been granted to collectors from outside districts for collecting Yarsa in Narpa Bhumi’s pasturelands. The Yarsa collection in three hills of the district has been restricted to people from outside the district. 

This year, less Yarsa has been collected compared to previous years in Namkekharka. Yad Ghale, Ward Chairman of Nasho-8, said that due to a lack of snow and rain, only small quantities had been collected.

Ghale, also Chairman of Tache Bagarchhap Conservation Area Management Committee, said, “Snow is essential for Yarsa as both fertiliser and water is needed. This year, we realised that without timely snowfall, Yarsa yield is also low. The ones collected are small and few.”

A team of 200 people obtained permission to collect the medicinal herb from Namkekharka this year. Although the team from Tache went for collection on May 10, they returned on May 18. 

Ghale said, “When the whole village went to the hill, it became difficult to perform death rituals, so they returned to the village for the last rites on May 19 and then resumed the collection work on the hill.”

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