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Local drive to stop students from Yarsagumba rush in Jumla,Western Nepal

By Netra Shahi, JUMLA: A rural municipality in Jumla has initiated a campaign to discourage parents from sending their wards to a remote area to collect Yarsagumba (Ophiocordyceps sinensis).

Patarasi Rural Municipality of Jumla district has started a campaign to request the parents to send their children to schools instead of encouraging them visit Patan to harvest Yarsagumba, which some regard as Himalayan Viagra.
As the harvesting season approaches, the rural municipality has initiated the “Send your children to school, not Patan” campaign to call on the parents to prioritise their wards’ education over Yarsagumba, the expensive herbs.
Tek Bahadur Budhthapa, Chief Administrative Officer of Patarasi Rural Municipality, informed that they had staged plays at Saraswoti Secondary School in Talfi, Malika Secondary School in Lothchaur and Rin Moksha Secondary School in Dillichaur to encourage students to stay in schools instead of going to remote parts to collect Yarsagumba.
He further warned that the rural municipality would stop delivering services to those families whose children remain absent from schools during the harvesting or other period.
Patarasi Rural Municipality chairman Lachhiman Bohara said, “The local level is committed to improving the educational status of our schools, and we can achieve this only through the support of the parents.”
For the campaign, chair Bohara and deputy-chair Punna Kali Mahatara are meeting with parents at different schools and villages in order to keep them from sending their wards to Patan in the upcoming Yarsagumba harvesting season.
The locals said that this campaign would bring down the number of children bunking schools to pick Yarsagumba. One local Kali Bahadur Bohara said, “The campaign has increased awareness among the people and will bring about a positive change.”
The schools are often forced to postpone their terminal exams because of the absence of students. “We can’t conduct our examinations unless 60 per cent of students are present,” Jagat Bahadur Shahi, a local teacher stated.
“A majority of children accompany their parents to Patan during the Yarsagumba harvesting season which means they are not able to sit for the terminal exam. So, we have to postpone it from June to July.”
He also informed that some students fall ill or even die while harvesting Yarsagumba. Another teacher Krishna Budha said that overall educational quality was affected because of the absence of students.
Yarsagumba is the main source of income for the people of Patarasi and
other villages in the district. Thus, the harvesting season is regarded as a time to earn money for the rest of the year.

(In this photo showing harvest season: Yarsa collectors swarm. File Photo)

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