Residents Compelled to Struggle in Search of Yarshagumba
Parbati Dhami, Api Himali-2 Rural Municipality, traveled to Lulu, Api, accompanied by her 3-year-old son, to forage for Yarshagumba. She and her family are living in a tent for two months to date.
Parvati says, ‘We don’t forage for Yarshagumba because we desire it, this is our necessity.’ Their financial condition compels them to travel to high altitudes and collect Yarsagumba. She expresses that they face constant problems living in tents. However, we suffer, to ensure income for our family.
She added, ‘I have been taking my son with me to collect Yarsagumba for a year. He has grown up and can adjust to the cold. He plays in the snow, and I continue doing my house chores.’
Similarly, Prem Singh Jagari of Apihimal Rural Municipality-1 has been camping in a den with his wife and infant child. He fears that his child might die of a cold. Despite the fear, his entire family traveled to the high altitude for two months.
Jagari said that his 20-year-old daughter had traveled with them to look after her brother, but she had to return because of altitude sickness. We cannot cover our living expenses if we include our children in our work. He also said that the crops yielded from farming in the village are not enough to earn their living. They are obligated to work hard during the Yarshagumba season.
Foragers often take their children to collect Yarsagumba, which is available at an altitude of about 4,000 meters. The practice of using children for collecting Yarsagumba existed since ancient times.
Locals live in forests like Lolu of Apa Himal, Odar, Thadapani, Bhawayadaha Satganga, Rokhapu, Katai, Chyati, and Dharamghar during winter.
After collecting enough Yarsagumba for almost two months, they live in the local forest itself. They go in search of Yarshagumba and even take their cattle with them.
Village Abandoned in Search of Yarsagumba
The villagers evacuated their village to travel to an altitude of about 4000 meters above sea level in search of Yarsagumba. People have not reached Patan yet, because of the late snowfall. However, this year a significant population from Marma, Naugadh, Byas, and Duhu Rural municipalities have started their travels to Patan for the Yarshagumba collection. This period of the year is very crucial for the locals.
The majority of Apahimal residents take their cattle with them, as Sabik Ghusa Rural municipality of Lulu is an area for the cattle to graze as well. Locals from Khandeshwari take their cattle to Dharamghradh while farmers from Naugad, Duhun, Vyas, and Mahakali take their cattle to other forests in the Byas Rural Municipality.
Compelled to survive on expensive food
Food expenses are high during the collection of Yarshagumba. The price of rice grain, which normally costs 45 to 50 rupees, is hiked up to 100 in this area. In Apihimal the roads have access up to Makrigad. The cost of shipping materials from Makrigadh to Ghusa is Rs. 10 per kilogram. They use Donkeys for transport, says Min Bahadur Lothyal from Apihimal Rural Municipality.
People take enough food grains for two months using their cattle as transport. He stated despite the unpredictable weather and low possibility of finding Yarsagumba this year, locals have already started transporting food in the area.
According to Jaya Singh Dhami of Naugadh Rural Municipality-4, he carries his food grains from the village when he comes to collect Yarshagumba. After purchasing the meal, it must be consumed. He claims that the availability of Yarsagumba has decreased compared to the past.
Yarshagumba collection resulted in five fatalities and three injuries.
Five people, including two children, died at the start of the collection season. Jyanendra Bahadur Singh, Inspector of District Police Office Darchula, said that Chima Semo Thapa,25, Prabin Kuwar,18, his mother Kamala Kuwar,36, Nawati Doma Thapa and Ishwar Thapa 28, of Joroyal Rural Municipality-2, lost their lives on May 16, 2023 due to avalance.
Similarly, a bolt of lightning injured Mansih Mahar, Ansih Mahar of Duhun Rural Municipality-1, and Maheshsih Badal of Ward No. 2, who had traveled to the forest of Byas Rural Municipality-2, on May 13.
- Narendra Singh Karki
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