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Cordyceps auction in Laya sees better prices amid lower yield

The annual cordyceps auction saw great enthusiasm among the collectors of Laya in Gasa this year. The prized fungus fetched better prices, reaching as high as Nu 4.3 M per kilogram for the best quality while the lowest quality earned Nu 655,000 per kilogram. Compared to the previous year, the collectors were happy with the prices as the highest rate was just over Nu 2.8 M per kilogram, last year.

During the auction held at the Khatoed Gewog Centre yesterday, 20 collectors brought nearly 34 and a half kilograms of cordyceps. And 16 bidders from various places participated in the bidding. The collectors go for the cordyceps collection in June every year.

The Department of Agricultural Marketing and Co-operatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in collaboration with the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority and the Department of Forests and Park Services facilitated the auction.

However, not satisfied with the prices, only about eight and a half kilograms were sold on the day as some sellers withdrew.

Despite this, the sellers and bidders contributed more than Nu 115,000 in royalties.

Only 280 people from the Laya gewog participated in the collection this year due to the poor yield compared to over 400 permits issued last year.

“We have managed to get double the price for cordyceps compared to last year. However, the quantity of cordyceps collected this year has decreased by almost three times in comparison to the previous year. Despite that, the prices are better this time. For instance, even half of a kilogram fetches a better price than a kilogram of cordyceps did last year,” said Sonam Dorji, a seller.

“The cordyceps price is significantly better this time than it was last year. In the previous auction, the price was very low despite a good quantity of cordyceps being available. But this time, the price is good due to the lower quantity of cordyceps. I am excited about the prices this year,” said Pema Zangmo, another seller.

With more than 26 kilograms withdrawn from the auction, some bidders said this might discourage bidders in the future.

 “I observed that sellers were withdrawing their cordyceps from the auction despite prices going up. I felt this could have negative consequences for both collectors and bidders in the future. I am concerned that it might lead to a decline in bidders from next year. I could not understand the rationale behind their decision to withdraw the cordyceps even when the prices were increasing during the auction,” said Nawang Peldon, a bidder.

Meanwhile, the Lunana Gewog administration decided not to hold a cordyceps auction this year due to poor yield and limited quantity. The small amount collected was sold among the collectors themselves.

An official from the Jigme Dorji National Park in Damji said Lunana collectors managed to gather almost 10 kilograms of cordyceps this year.

According to a recently published research article on the impact of climate change among highlanders in the country, the majority of the highlanders expressed concerns that climate change is posing a threat to the growth and harvest of cordyceps.

The study calls for a climate-resilient community-based economic opportunity for the sustainable livelihood of highland communities.

Changa Dorji, Gasa

Edited by Sonam Pem