Matsutake, a big boost to Ura farmers
The annual Matsutake Festival was celebrated to help preserve and promote the culture and tradition as well as to improve the livelihood of the community.
The festival was celebrated at Ura village in Bumthang Dzongkhag on 23 and 24 August. The fungi are native to forests of Ura valley in Central Bhutan. Uraps begin Matsutake collection in July every year.
Matsutake mushroom has been a major source of income for the farmers of Ura village. It has played an important role in their socio-economic development. The communities use income from the sale of Matsutake to meet children’s expenses and basic essentials among others.
Jigme Lhundrup from Ura said that the mushroom benefited both socially and economically. “We expect to preserve and work towards quality production.” He also said that it is important to take care of the forest for sustainable harvesting of the mushrooms.
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.
The festival enables the visitors to identify the fabled mushrooms as they embark on mushroom picking excursions around the pristine forests and hills. And for the outsiders, it was perhaps the best way to experience the amazing culture and the festival.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said 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 mushroom is Japan. The price of Matsutake in the market depends on quality, availability and origin.
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 local people also showcased the Tshechu.
The modern medicine found Matsutake mushrooms to be good sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, B and C. potassium found in high amounts in Matsutake mushrooms is responsible for the healthy heart and muscles and provide the fluid balance in the body.
Matsutake mushrooms are also proven to be effective fighting different cancers. It also found to prevent the risk of can- cers by regular consumption.
Matsutake is the common name for highly sought after mycorrhizal mushroom that grows in Asia, Europe and North America.
Hundreds of people from the country and tourists attended the twoday festival.
Dzongkhag officials and senior government officials, officials from MoAF, tourists and farmers also attended the festival among others.
The festival was organized by the Phrumsengla National Park Services in collaboration with the National Mushroom Centre, MoAF with financial support from Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Last year, the Matsutake Festival in Ura, couldn not be held because of local government elections.