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Morels of Palas Valley, Pakistan: A Potential Source for Generating Income and Improving Livelihoods of Mountain Communities

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Morels of Palas Valley, Pakistan: A Potential Source for Generating Income and Improving Livelihoods of Mountain Communities. The local economy in the Palas Valley of Pakistan is agro-pastoral, and people rely on income and subsistence from livestock production followed by wild-collection of morels. The purpose of this study was to investigate the market potential of morels, their folk uses, traditions, and habitat conditions. Market and field surveys were conducted in various regions of the country. The information regarding ethnic uses of morels and the traditional beliefs of people in the Palas Valley and its surroundings were recorded. The data we collected included supply and demand, pricing, and market fluctuations and trends. A specially designed questionnaire was used to gather details from focus groups, and individual discussions and personal interviews during field visits were conducted. The study areas included: Palas Valley, Peshawar, Lahore, and Karachi, which are the major herbal market places in Pakistan. The Palas Valley was found to have the potential and natural resources to become an excellent market for morels. The results of the present study indicate that five species of morels (Morchella esculenta, M. conica, M. elata, M. deliciosa, and M. gigas) growing in Palas Valley are traded all over Pakistan. We found that a total of 15,000 kg morels from the Palas Valley were exported annually to national and international markets. This generated significant revenue (USD 343,000 per year) at the valley level. Local people, especially herdsmen, together with their wives and children, were mainly collecting this resource. Local knowledge about the methods of morel collection, drying, storage, and market price was limited. A continuous decline was observed in morel market supply in Pakistan. The main reasons identified included quality variation due to poor harvest treatments, trade practices of middlemen, availability of materials, and poor marketing strategies. The study concludes that morels are a potential source of income generation and improving livelihoods for underprivileged mountain communities. However, morel populations seem to be gradually declining due to possibly unsustainable collection techniques. There is tremendous potential to boost the income of ethnic communities by promoting training and enhancing the trade of morels based on modern scientific studies. This would not only bring considerable income opportunities for the population of Palas Valley, but would also decrease their dependence on timber sales and thus decrease the pressure on local forests.

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The authors would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the National Research Program for Universities of the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, for research funding and support.

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Correspondence to Rainer W. Bussmann.

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Sher, H., Aldosari, A. & Bussmann, R.W. Morels of Palas Valley, Pakistan: A Potential Source for Generating Income and Improving Livelihoods of Mountain Communities. Econ Bot 69, 345–359 (2015).

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