Even as the new academic session began over a month ago and schools across the country are running classes in full swing, schools in the villages of Dolpa district have not opened yet as students have left for the highlands for yarsagumba hunt.
People of Vyas, Ralpa, Sunsera, Dhaulakot, Chhapari, Bhramadev, Huti, Hinkala, Ghusha, Khandeshowari, Sittola, Earkot and Guljar, among other VDCs, in Darchula distirct have also left for the Himalayas in search of yarshagumba. Only the elderly and small children are left in the villages now. Of the people who have left for the yarshagumba hunt, two-thirds are school going children, according to the coordinator of ´Yarshagumba management committee´ of Ghusa VDC Lokendra Lothyal.
“The children are not in the village as they have left for Lolu, Rokhapu, Bayeli and Dhubidhan, among other places for yarsha collection. We charge Rs 250 per person for permission to collect yarshagumba,” he said.
“We leave for the highlands to collect yarshagumba as this is the only means of our livelihood. We have no choice,” said Nandan Dhami, a student of Sindhar Primary School in Ralpa VDC.
According to District Education Officer Durgadutta Bista, over 100 schools have been closed due to the yarsha collection.
Similarly, over 30,000 people from Jajarkot have left for the highlands to collect yarshagumba. This includes a large number of school going children. “This is the fourth time I am leaving for the highlands to collect yarshagumba.
I started collecting yarshagumba since I was a sixth grader,” said Bimala Rana, 9th grader at Tribhuvan Higher Secondary School in Khalanga.
Collecting yarshagumba is the only means of earning livelihood for us, says Rana.
Collection of yarshagumba was illegal until eight years ago. After the government started issuing permission for yarsha collection 2006, people in this region have become financially well-off.
Villages in Rukum also wear a deserted look as schools have been closed and the people have left for the high altitudes to collect yarshagumaba.
According to Tilak Gautam, officer at Rukum District Education Office, the schools remain closed during this season every year. “Children leave along with their parents to collect yarshagumba. So it is kind of vacation time,” he said. Each household in the region earns anything from Rs 100,000 to 200,000 annually through yarshagumba sale. The yarshagumba collection season lasts for two months.
Date: 29 May, 2014