August 15-16, Thimphu: The second annual Mushroom Festival was held in Geney geog celebrating the Royal Birth of HRH The Gyalsey, Jigme Namgyal Wangchuk. It also celebrated the 30 years of diplomatic relationship between JICA and Bhutan whereby the community and students showcased different mushrooms for sale, food stalls and cultural programs. The event was further aimed to help preserve and promote the culture and tradition as well as to improve the livelihood of the community.
The festival celebrated the importance of mushroom and in particular matsutake mushroom which played a huge role in the socio-economic development of the geog. Mushroom is the major source of cash income for the Geney farmers. Last year alone, matsutake sale bagged around 87million Ngultrum.
Prior to the matsutake mushroom trade began, the community depended on fabrication of simple farm tolls and knives which they carried on their back to be sold in the other valleys. People had to go to look for seasonal labour in the lower valleys.
The festival has also helped travel companies to promote off season tourism particularly related to the mushroom, tradition and culture. This is hoped to contribute in reducing rural urban migration and conservation of culture through employment opportunities and income for villagers.
The major export destination of matsutake mushroom are Japan followed by South Korea, India, Singapore, Hongkong and Thailand.
The opening event was graced by Their Excellencies, Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, JICA President, Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, th e Agriculture and Forests Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji accompanied by Member of Parliament, Thimphu Dzongdag, officials from the Ministry and farmers.
Lyonchhoen during his address to the community highlighted the importance of matsutake mushroom both socially and economically and urged them to preserve and work towards quality production. He also informed the community on the Ministry of Agriculture’s initiative towards intensifying the matsutake production.
The festival also consisted awareness programs on mushroom nutrition and poisoning.
The event was organised jointly by Geney Mushroom Management Group and National Mushroom Centre with fund support from the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom with Photos by Choidup Zangpo
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