English | Dzongkha Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Auction held for Bumthang’s unsold Cordyceps

Sep 20, 2021

Cordyceps collectors in Bumthang were finally able to sell most of their harvests after the agriculture ministry conducted an urgent auction recently. The ministry cancelled the regular auctions across the country since last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most low quality and smaller Cordyceps remained unsold without an auction.

People sold over 17 kilograms of Cordyceps from about 25 kilograms brought for auction. Some withdrew their lots, unsatisfied with the prices offered. However, generally, low quality Cordyceps which comprised most of the unsold harvests fetched fairly good prices compared to last year. The best quality Cordyceps fetched over Nu 1.2 M per kilogram while the lowest graded ones were sold at a little over Nu 100,000.

“Before the auction, when buyers visited my home, they offered me 1.2 million per kilogram but I didn’t sell hoping the price would shoot up. However, at the auction today the price offered is only about Nu 400,000 for the same Cordyceps. So, I withdrew from the auction,” said Nidup Wangmo from Chhoekhor Gewog.

“In auctions, luck matters. Sometimes, low quality Cordyceps are grouped with the better ones while some top class Cordyceps are graded very low; that’s when people withdraw their lots. I had to withdraw mine as well as the price offered was about Nu 170,000 which would usually fetch around Nu 400,000 per kilogram,” said another Cordyceps collector Ngawang Pelden from Chhoekhor.

After the ministry allowed direct buying and selling of the fungus, exporters mostly bought the top quality Cordyceps. In the direct buying and selling system, an exporter visits villages to buy Cordyceps. However, buyers are divided about the system.

“The auction system is better. For instance, in Bumthang due to the direct buying and selling arrangement, all the good quality Cordyceps were already sold months ago and now all that’s brought at this auction is poor quality ones,” said Tenzin, a Cordyceps buyer.

“In my opinion, the direct buying and selling scheme is better. In auctions, the grading causes a lot of confusion and people don’t get the expected price. Whereas, when we visit their homes, they have the luxury to decide whether or not to sell and we can also select the Cordyceps properly,” said Dophu, another Cordyceps buyer.

Meanwhile, the agricultural marketing and cooperatives department (DAMC) has no plans to conduct auctions in other districts as of now.

“Due to the risks of transmission of COVID, for other districts, we are sticking to the initial decision of not conducting auctions. We had to conduct in Bumthang as people requested us repeatedly. We can’t say anything yet about the other Cordyceps collecting districts,” said Tshering Penjor, Marketing Officer with DAMC.

Like any other businesses, the pandemic affected the Cordyceps trade as well. Cordyceps price slumped to a record low last year. In Bumthang, the number of people gathering Cordyceps have also decreased this year. For now, people are hoping for the pandemic to recede and the trade of the prized fungus return to normalcy.

Kipchu, Bumthang

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