CHITRAL, May 22: People in Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur and Ayun village are these days busy in ‘making money’ by collecting morels, a superb variety of mushroom, in the nearby forests where the season is in its full swing.
Muhkam Ayuni, a development worker in Kalash valley, told this correspondent that the daily wage labourers and the jobless youth including women and children of the valleys now go to the forests before dawn and return by dusk.
He said that morels grow in the deodar forests of the valleys in large number with the advent of spring season and frequent rainfall with thunderstorm is believed to provide them with congenial atmosphere.
Mr. Ayuni said that a person can pick half a kilogram of morels during his daylong struggle which earns for him more than Rs 1,500 as the fresh morel is sold in the local market at Rs3,500 a kilogram.
Locally called Qochhi, Chitral provides a great market for it as it grows in the deodar forests of the southern part of the district while Chitral is believed to be the third largest producer of morels after Swat and Hazara regions.
Shapir Khan of Birir valley said that he was jobless but the season of morels and mushrooms provides him with an ideal opportunity to earn money to support his family.
“I go to the forests along with my sons, wife and daughter and forage morels there till the evening”, he said and added that the same is the case with most of the families of the valleys.
A school teacher in a government-run school of Bumburate valley said that the attendance in his school drops during the season as a large number of the students are sent to the forests by their families for collecting morels which brings the parents a pretty cash amount.
Regarding the price of the commodity, a shopkeeper in Bumburate valley, Ajmal Khan, said that the dried morel is purchased by the non-local traders at a high price of Rs 19000 per kilogram.
Meanwhile, a two-day workshop was arranged by Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) directorate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to impart training to the youth on sustainable and friendly collection of morels in Bumburate valley.
District representative of NTFP, Ijaz Ahmed said more than 50 persons were trained on friendly methods of collection without disturbing the growth of future sperms of morels and mushrooms in the vicinity.
He said that as per survey conducted by NTFP, the 55 percent of the collectors were male youth folk, 33 percent children and 12 women.
He said that such trainings will also be held in the other two Kalash valleys Rumbur and Birir during the season. Some community members in Bumburate valley have also demanded that proper packaging, dehydration and marketing facility should be provided by the government.–Zahiruddin