Cashing up from black mushrooms

CHITRAL, June 29: The forest department has provided training to local people on how to pick the precious black mushrooms in the forests of lower Chitral. This is the first time that mushroom picking has been streamlined in lower parts of the district, which are most suitable for the growth of a good variety of mushrooms, especially black mushroom (morels), due to their temperate conditions. The price of per kilogram black mushroom has soared to Rs35,000 in the local market. Haji Usman of Sheshi Koh valley, a local trader of mushrooms, had all praise for the directorate of non-timber forest products (NTFP) for organising scientific and sustainable mushroom picking during the season. He said apart from Kalash valleys of Rumboor, Bomburate and Birir, Sheshi Koh, Molen Gol, Uchest Gol, Shali Gol, Goleen Gol, Koughazi Gol, Asherat, Beori, Jughoor Gol, Gahrate Gol were known for growing good quantity of mushrooms. Mr Usman said he used to purchase 50 to 300 grams of dried mushroom from individual collectors in the season but the amount had jumped to one kilogram this year due to its organised picking. Murad Ali of Rumbur valley, another local trader, said the NTFP organised training in various villages on how to pick the mushroom without harming its root. He said each household had collected 1.5 to 2kg of mushroom during the season. He said Chitral could become the largest producer of black mushroom if the forest department continued its support. Mr Ali said that the whole collection process is also supervised by the department and field guidance was also provided to the collectors for which the district in charge of NTFP Ijaz Ahmed and his team made extra efforts and encamped in the valleys during the harvesting season. Regarding the volume of harvest during the season, a non-local purchaser of the product from Mardan, Gul Rahman, put it at two tons in dried form supplied to the national market. It is believed to be higher than other mushroom producing areas.–Dawn]]>

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