Thimphu: Cordyceps, a peculiar health weed native to Bhutan and highly valued for its medicinal properties, fetches astronomical prices at the yearly auction. This year a man from Thimphu district got the highest price for his cordyceps - Rs.351,000 for a kg!
The Agriculture Ministry holds auctions every year around this season in various districts, and the Thimphu auction saw the collector from the Naro Block of Thimphu district go laughing back to his village, according to a report by the Bhutan Today News Service. Cordyceps are grown at altitudes beyond 2,500 metres and the collectors are nomadic people whose only livelihood comes from this once-a-year auction. No other cash crop can be grown at those altitudes, agriculture ministry officials said. These nomadic people live a very hard life, as survival conditions are difficult. To detect a live cordyceps stick, they have to crawl. The collectors have to stay away from their homes for days, surviving on dried food, especially dried beef or pork.
Sometimes an individual collector may not even find one full kilogram of the weed. Sangay Penjor, 18, said: "My entire family worked on collection this year and yet, we have not managed to get a kg of the stuff." Often the collectors die, as six of them did when a mudslide completely washed them away when incessant and heavy rains lashed the country on May 26 in the wake of Cyclone Alia. Their bodies have still not been found.
The ministry is still holding auctions in various districts, but it seems unlikely that the price will bettered. Ministry officials are worried over a new trend they noticed this year - all the certified and listed bidders are not coming to the auction, for reasons they are yet to fathom.IANS
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