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Yarcha-picking season just ahead, schools preparing to close in Western Nepal

RUKUM EAST: A season for picking Yarcha-Gumba, (Caterpillar fungus) a lucrative herb which is found in the high altitude of mountains, is round the corner here. Yarcha-picking remains as the main source of people’s income in the highlands of Rukum East.
Although schools in most parts of the country are in the first month of the new academic sessions, schools here are preparing to close down as teachers, students and guardians are about to leave the villages for around two months for Patan to pick the plant, a combined form of caterpillar and fungus found at different places of Patan. Youths of Maikot have already been there to protect the source of their income. Normally, the season for picking the plants starts from the second week of May and this time it gets delayed by a week due to snow.
Patan-1 ward chairman Makar Bahadur Gurung informed that though the herbs picking time is beginning from the third week of May this time, the Patan folks will leave for there from the third week of May.
Principal of Himalaya Secondary School, Maikot, Hasti Man Pun said they had decided to close the school from May 18 to mid-July as the village sees an exodus of people in this season. However, the holidays will be adjusted in summer vacation holidays and schools here remain open during summer vacation at other parts.
The research data have shown that the yarsa-picking business has caused severe hindrance to the educational progress of students. Local Ram Bikram Budha said that schools were closed under several pretexts and teachers themselves seemed in a hurry to head for picking the yarsagumba by closing schools.
Over a dozen schools and the same number of basic schools are getting closed for two months beginning from mid-May for the picking of yarsagumba and an individual earns from Rs 50,000 t0 500,000 in a season.
Ramlal Gharti of Putha Uttarganga rural municipality-2 said yarsa picking is also the first priority of teachers in this season.
District Education and Coordination Unit has no official information about it, but unit chief Tilak Gautam said the closing of schools during yarsa collection season has been customary here. As he said, the holidays will be adjusted in the summer vacation and it apparently makes no difference in the performance of students.

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