Bhutanese fungus collectors at mercy of market

Since 2003, the people of the Laya valley in Bhutan have transformed their lives with the profits from harvesting cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that grows on insects and arachnids and is believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac by people across the Himalaya.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps. Image by Jason Hollinger / CC BY 2.0

Poverty has almost been eradicated in the area and nomadic shelters have been replaced by new villages of sturdy stone houses. However, many people are now worried that people are becoming over-dependent on the fungus, which is causing massive social change. Families are fragmenting to circumvent a government rule that only three people in any household can harvest cordyceps, children are dropping out of school to join the harvest. A poor price for cordyceps, as happened this year, can have severe implications for livelihoods in the valley. Read more: kuenselonline.com

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