Numerous attempts of Chinese intrusion into Indian territory were to collect Cordyceps, which is an expensive herbal drug in China, Indo-Pacific Centre for Strategic Communications (IPCSC) said on 25 December.
Chinese soldiers have been accused of illegally entering Arunachal Pradesh to collect this fungus. Also known as Caterpillar fungus or Himalayan Gold, this fungus is supposed to be more expensive than gold in China.
Cordyceps are found in the Indian Himalayas and at higher altitudes of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in southwestern China. The herb has been valued at 1072.50 million dollars globally in 2022. China has been the biggest exporter as well as producer of this fungi.
According to IPCSC the Cordyceps harvest has waned in Qinghai, the largest producing region in the country as the fungus has grown scarce. This comes with a sharp increase in demand for the same in the last decade.
Surveys have shown that Cordyceps harvest has declined, mainly due to over-harvesting.
Some towns in the Himalayas rely on collecting and selling this fungus for a living. In fact, experts say that up to 80 percent of household income in the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas can come from selling caterpillar fungus.
The bioactive molecule cordycepin found in cordyceps has great therapeutic potential and may one day be turned into an effective new antiviral and anti-cancer treatment.
The mushrooms are rare in the wild, and up until now, growing healthy Cordyceps in the lab has been difficult, hindering scientific research.