Himalaya, Path of Yarchagumba

Himalaya  Path of Yarchagumba

This film by the Korean Broadcasting System continues our series of films about life in the Himalayas, this time in Nepal.

The villagers lives in these remote parts have been changed by the discovery of a medicinal fungus that grows only at high altitudes, which in Korean is apparently called Yarchagumba, and in English is known as cordyceps.

Cordyceps is credited with a wide range of benefits, from curing cancer to curing sexual dysfunction in men. It is probably the latter that has sent the price of cordyceps rocketing, so it is by weight now twice as expensive as gold.

And similar to the gold rush of old, this has sent people on a desperate hunt for the fungus every year, as two months work might bring a reward equal to a Government servant’s yearly salary.

The film begins in the district of Dolmo, and a small village called Dho Tarap. The village size increases sixfold during the summer season, as at that time the snows melt, and the fields can be hunted down for cordyceps.

The second half of the film concentrates on getting the fungus to market just over the Tibetan border, which opens for just two weeks a year to allow this trade. Of course the buyers make a handsome profit also once they get it to Beijing or Hong Kong.

Set against the incredible scenery of the Himalayan ranges, the film looks at how people take great risks with themselves, and their livestock, to gather this crop, and sell it abroad, making fair profits along the way.


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