Quake-hit locals start to pick ‘Himalayan Viagra’

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GORKHA, JUN 11 – After constructing temporary shelters for them to live, all the quake-affected locals from Chhekampar in Gorkha district have rushed to the highlands in the pursuit of precious Yarsagumba, also called “Himalayan Viagra” because of its supposed aphrodisiac powers.

“Only 25 percent of the total population of the village have stayed back,” said Tashi Lama of Chekampar, adding that all others have rushed to the highlands to collect the precious herb.

It is mostly the women, elderly and children who have stayed back in the village to collect relief materials for earthquake victims, he said.

Lama said that after their houses were destroyed by the Apirl 25 earthquake they immediately constructed temporary shelters for their families to live in and came to the highlands in search of the herb.

Talking over the phone, Lama said all schools in the area have also been shut down as the students have also rushed to the highlands to collect Yarsagumba.

Locals said they have witnessed a sharp decline in the number of Yarsagumba found in the highlands this year compared to the previous years owing to excessive snowfall this year. Even Yarsagumba businessmen who used to arrive in hordes in the district every year to buy Yarsagumba are nowhere to be seen this year.

The herbs collected in the northern belt of the district are usually exported to Tibet.

“No businessmen have arrived in our villages to buy Yarsagumba due to landslides and boulders obstructing the highway at several sections,” said Lama. He, however, said locals should however travel to the nearby Tibet border, which lies at a distance of about one hour from the Yarsha highlands.

Likewise, Laxmi Lama of Samagaun said the whole village appears to have been abandoned or evacuated as the people have move to the highlands to collect the herbs.

Similarly, Chief of Manaslu Area Conservation Project, Rajan Kumar Gurung said the herb can be found in Samgaun, Loho, Chhekampar and Bardibash VDCs in an altitude of 45 meters above sea level.