Millennium Post

Himalayan gold

It is costlier than gold. One kilogram (around 3,000 pieces) of keedajadi is usually sold at approximately $10,000 - $15,000/kg in the international market.

Villagers in a bid to make easy money put their life at risk and shift their base from hamlets to these glacier to extract the hidden treasure. For almost a decade now the illegal trade of keedajadi has been attracting people, while smugglers who are running a parallel economy in the region find a huge source of supply in Uttarakhand to meet the rising demand of Keedajadi in international market.

It is worth noting that the state’s economy is completely dependent on tourism, which has taken a severe hit due to recent natural disasters. The only option for locals to earn their livelihood in remote areas is to extract the keedajadi by setting fire to forests in order to melt glaciers.

Keedajadi, also known as yarsagumba or yarchagumbu, is reportedly an exceptional and incredible herb. It is also known as the ‘Himalayan Viagra’ or ‘Himalayan Gold’ for its high medicinal and commercial value. It is mainly used to treat impotency in many countries. Yarsagumba is used by the Chinese to cure chronic hepatitis B and immune function such as dysfunctioning of liver.

Meanwhile, the environmentalists are worried over the repercussions of using unnatural ways to extract keedajadi from glaciers. ‘Under the natural process when the glaciers melt keedajadi automatically comes out, but people have now started setting fire to the jungles near the glaciers so that they melt earlier than usual and the herb is accessed. This is a dangerous practice of the traders which can disbalance the nature and will lead to another natural disasters in future,’ Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi, founder of HESCO (Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization, told Millennium Post over phone.

Since the trading of keedajadi is illegal in many countries, smugglers approach local people for arranging it and buy it at high prices. Villagers go to high altitudes in search of the herb and often stay there for a long period to collect substantial quantities to meet the demand and earn good amount of money in exchange. Fights among collectors are a common phenomena and sometimes result in fatalities.

Earlier keedajadi was collected by the Lamas in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and in the Sichuan, Qinghai, Xizang and Yunnan provinces of China. But as resources depleted, they started to focus on Kumaon and Chamoli districts of Uttrakhand.  Keedajadi has been used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicines over the last 1500 years. It is considered to be the energy booster and believed to possess anti-cancer properties. As the locals do not have any other reliable sources of income they rely on keedajadi. This is the failure of state governments,’ said Joshi.

‘Over the last decade, the news of this fresh income booster spread like wildfire to the other surrounding villages of Garhwal. Today, a situation has come where every household has at least one member leaving in pursuit of Yartsagumba,’ said Vickram Negi, a local resident of Chamoli district.

Earlier, in a research report published in a 1998 in a issue of ‘The Journal of Alternative and
Complementary Medicine’, a significant improvement in majority of patients suffering from various
respiratory diseases (chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, or cor pulmonale) was reported after use of a Cordyceps Sinensis (Cordyceps Sinensis is a medicine in old Chinese medical books and Tibetan medicine. It is a rare combination of a caterpillar and a fungus and found at high altitudes of Sikkam, Uttrakhand, Nepal etc. Traditional healers and local people of North Sikkim, Tibet recommend the mushroom, i.e., Yarsa gumba, keedajadi for all diseases either as a single drug or combined with other herbs) supplement for 2-12 weeks.
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