The winner of our recent AuthorAID Capture your Research competition is Sanjeev Poudel (@sanjeevdevs) a Sustainable Development Practitioner and early career researcher from Nepal who recently completed our AuthorAID Research Writing in the Sciences, 2020 course. Sanjeev’s research focuses on the sustainable harvesting of medicinal plant such as caterpillar fungus in the Tibetan plateau with special focus on Nepal’s Maikot village situated in Eastern Rukum. He is interested in activism and action-based research that is backed by evidence and anything to do with sustainable development. On a personal level he is an advocate for the fifth Sustainable Development goal focusing on gender equality and seeks to contribute to society by engaging in responsible entrepreneurship that has a local yet global impact. He explains his winning photo below:
My research focuses on the sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants such as caterpillar fungus (summer grass, winter worm) which can be found across Tibetan Plateau in mountain geographical areas of Nepal, India, Bhutan, China and Tibet. Its market price is three times than price of gold!
As a researcher, I am examining the status of high-value non-timber forest products having an export potential to ensure sustainable management of the resources. The thesis examines the contribution of caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) to rural livelihoods and the role of community-based resource management in the Pupal pasture of Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Nepal. Findings suggest that the harvesters earned about 80% of their household income from the fungus collection.
This is a picture taken with Yarsagumba (English: caterpillar fungus) harvester of Maikot village during my thesis survey (May/June 2019) in the highland Pupal pasture. In the picture, we (me and my father Mr. Narayan Prasad Poudel) are discussing what size and quality determine the price of caterpillar fungus? and the challenges they face while collecting it.
In 2020, these harvesters were restricted to collect caterpillar fungus. I have written an article on how COVID-19 has provided people of Maikot an opportunity for rotational harvesting of the fungus which you can read here. As the price has rocketed in the international market, the issue of non- sustainable harvesting is prevalent in highland pastures.