Eco-tourism showcased at Bhutan Matsutake Festival
This festival, organised by the Ura mushroom conservation and tourism group, and held in Ura from August 4 to 7, was initiated to promote the sustainable use of biological resources, enhance the income of people through eco-tourism facilities and for the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of Ura, according to the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.“People living in the park have reservation towards the park as a liability,” he said, adding that such activities will make people feel a sense of ownership towards the park as indigenous products and local services like home stays, guided mushroom collection and medicinal hot stone bath are provided by the people.
According to the chairperson of the group, Ura gup Lhawang Dendup, the group collected about Nu 20,000 last year and deposited in the community development fund, which will be used for sustainable celebration of the mushroom festival.
Ura valley, situated about 3000 m above sea level is known for matsutake or Sangay shamu. Local residents said that it grows in clusters at the base of pine trees and is collected once a year from July to September.
The residents, Kuensel talked to, however, said that lack of snow last winter and rain recently affected the growth of mushrooms. Matsutake is largely exported to Japan, besides Singapore and India. Matsutake has been a typical part of Japanese cuisine for at least 1,000 years.
The park visitor centre was also inaugurated during the festival.
Meanwhile, farmers said that the festival was also an opportunity to sell their local produce. Sonam Tshomo, 46, from Shingkhar, came to sell her products made from dairy products. “The best thing about the festival is that we have a market in our gewog once a year,” she said. “It saves time and money to go to Chamkhar town.”