Yartsa gunbu harvest 2013



Apparently the Agriculture Department of Tibet Autonomous Region has published the 2013 Yartsa gunbu harvest quantities [See the press article from CCTV news webpage].
In brief 2013 a harvest of 53.7 tons was recorded.
Since 1999 the annual Yartsa gunbu harvest is recorded in Tibet AR, a very important contribution to understanding the Cordyceps phenomenon, but unfortunately an unique achievement. Tibetan areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu do not record their annual harvest, which is especially disappointing in the case of Qinghai Province, whose production often is higher than Tibet AR.

To put the 53.7 tons harvested in 2013 into historic context, since 1999 the annual harvest fluctuated between 33 t to 57 t, on average it was 44 t (see graphic below, blue figures on left). So clearly 2013 was a productive year. And it is great to hear that resource depletion at least when it comes to overall output is not evident in this number. To the contrary, these 53,700 kg attest to the relative resilience of Yartsa gunbu. Still, as written since many years, increased or at least stable output can be partially attributed to more areas being ever more intensely searched. These statistics do not allow to factor this in. On the other side, the news release reports that the 53.7 t were a 50 percent year-on-year increase from 2012, which indicates that the harvest in 2012 was a meager 36 t. This low figure does not come as a surprise, since the winter and spring of 2011/2012 was reported to be drier and warmer than usual, too factors that seem to reduce productivity.  All in all, these production amounts are within the range of previously recorded harvests and thus demonstrate that at least in Tibet AR we seem not to witness total resource exhaustion as claimed by some other sources. 

Here a table from my 2011 Caterpillar Fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) Production and Sustainability on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayas. In: Asian Medicine 5 (2009), p. 291–316. (published as 2009)   download


For a discussion in detail on the issue of sustainable harvesting in past and present please see my blog-entry from May 4, 2010 [link to the blog: cordyceps-crisis-or-reporting-crisis ?].

Here the news story:

Output of Cordyceps sinensis rises in 2013 

LHASA, Feb.22  The output of Cordyceps sinensis in Tibet in 2013 has reached 53,700 kilograms, a 50 percent year-on-year increase compared with that of 2012, according to the Agricultural Department of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Due to more precipitation and better weather than previous years, this herb enjoyed a facilitative environment and consequently a sharp increase in output.

The Cordyceps sinensis is a swift moth larva with parasitic fungus that grows between 3,000 to 5,000 meters above the sea level. In winter, the fungus hibernates under the soil and in between spring and summer, it grows out of the swift moth and into the shape of herb. That is the reason why it is also called "winterworm summerherb".

Last edited Thu, 03/06/2014 - 16:59