Matsutake, a big boost to Geney farmers
The second Matsutake Festival was celebrated to help preserve and promote the culture and tradition as well as to improve the livelihood of the community.
The annual festival was celebrated at Geney Zampa in Geney Gewog under Thimphu Dzongkhag from 15-16 August.
Matsutake mushroom has been a major source of income for the farmers of Geney Gewog. It has played an important role in their socio-economic development.
The objective of the festival is to create awareness on the sustainable harvesting of the local mushroom and enjoy the organic natural flavors of the nature. It is also aimed at creating awareness on mushroom nutrition and poisoning.
Speaking at the festival, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that last year alone, matsutake sale earned around Nu.87 million while it was just Nu.10 million in year 2013.
Lyonchhen highlighted the importance of matsutake mushroom both socially and economically and urged the people to preserve and work towards quality production.
Meanwhile, he also reminded the locals to take care of the environment and the importance of sustainable harvesting of the mushrooms.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) says that the festival has also helped travel companies to promote off-season tourism, one that is particularly related to the mushroom, tradition and culture.
“This is hoped to contribute in reducing rural to urban migration and conservation of culture through employment opportunities and income for villagers.”
According to the organizer, the season brings the opportunity to sample some truly delicious matsutake meals, to engage in songs and dances together with the locals and to develop a deeper understanding of the village life.
The major export destination of matsutake mush- room is Japan followed by South Korea, India, Singapore, Hongkong and Thailand.
During the festival, the community and students showcased the native mushrooms for sale, food stalls, other local products, mushroom hunting, and cultural programs by school.
The festival was held to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyal Wangchuck and the 30 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan.
In the meanwhile, Thrumsengla National Park has conveyed to Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) that the Matsutake Festival in Ura, Bumthang, scheduled on 23 and 24 August will not be held since the festival is coinciding with the local government elections.
The opening event of the festival was graced by Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, JICA President, Shinichi Kitaoka, and Agriculture and Forests Minister Yeshey Dorji.
The Members of Parliament, Thimphu Dzongdag, officials from MoAF, tourists and farmers also attended the festival.
The festival was organized by the Department of Forests and Park Services in collaboration with the National Mushroom Centre, MoAF with financial support from TCB.