By Belina Thapa, LAMJUNG: The high lands of Manang are presently crowded with people thronging to collect the Yarsagumba herb.
Scores of people from Manang and outside have applied to the Conservation Area Management Committee, formed by the Manang Area Conservation Office of the Annapurna Conservation
Area Project (ACAP) for the harvesting permit of the valuable herb.
According to Babulal Tiwari, chief of the ACAP Area Conservation Office, Manang, around 22 areas have been identified for harvesting out of which all of but two (Nar and Fu) have been opened to the public.
As informed by Yad Ghale, chairman of the Namgyakharka Management Joint Sub-committee, the application charge for the harvesting permit is Rs. 3,000 for the locals, Rs. 4,500 for the residents of neighbouring villages and Rs. 10,000 for the people from outside Manang. Similar prices are fixed by other committees of other areas, as per the ACAP Area Conservation Office.
He informed that 540 people had taken the permit so far this year. This is an increase from last year when only about 200 people took the permit. “The increase is because of the heavy snowfall this year,” Ghale said adding, “People believe that they can find more Yarsagumba when there is heavy snowfall.”
For issuing the permits, the committees collect royalty at a rate of Rs. 10,000 per kilogram for the collected Yarsagumba. The local level also levies a tax of Rs. 10,000 per kilogram. Then the businessmen have to submit a further Rs. 30,000 per kilogram to the government as revenue. This all adds to the final market price of the herb which stands at Rs. 1.1 million to Rs. 1.6 million.
According to the police, security provisions have been tightened to prevent any unpleasant incident during this collection season.
In May 2009, seven collectors of Yarasagumba from Gorkha district were killed by locals of Nar. Since then security has been tightened during the Yarsagumba collection season, said Khadka.
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