Friday, April 2, 2021

Take risk of life to hunt mushrooms in the desert

Despite bombs, mines and unexploded ordnance and dangers from wolves, many Iraqis still rushed to the Samawa Desert to dig the truffle.

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"Truffle, a gift of God", Ms. Zahra Buheir, truffle hunter in the Samawa desert (Iraq) shared with The Guardian. Despite the harsh desert weather, people like Zahra spend weeks searching for the truffle. That is not to mention the remnants of mines and ERW in this desert region of southern Iraq. All because of the revenue that the truffle brings to the poor destiny.

The craft of harvesting mushrooms in the desert has been passed down for generations. When there are no jobs, the truffle is the lifeblood of these people.

The prices of truffles in the Iraqi desert are much cheaper than in Europe. According to The Guardian, the fungus that many people have to bet their lives on in the Samawa desert only costs about $ 6 / kg. Meanwhile, its brother in Europe is sold for hundreds of USD / kg.

However, with the current economic crisis in Iraq, this fungus also helps the poor to relieve the burden. This year, the rain is coming late, so the mushroom hunters can only earn about 1 kg / day. The number is only 1/10 of what they dug in a windy, rainy year.

They used metal rods to dig soil and rocks in the desert.

"We were scared. Lots of wolves here and mines. Last time, one person died," said a mushroom hunter. According to The Guardian, the remnants from the 1991 Gulf War are still there. Many people mistakenly think that bombs and mines are mushrooms if you don't look closely.

A mushroom hunter's tent in the desert.

Salma Mohsen, a 10-year-old mushroom hunter, takes pictures with her work.

Every few days, a few traders drive to the desert to get mushrooms to sell to the market.

A man examines the mushrooms sold at Samawa market.

Ra'ad Abdelemir, a trader, sorts the truffle mushrooms in a market tent. Mushrooms are priced according to size. They are also commonly known as walnuts, eggs, oranges or pomegranates, depending on the size in a funny manner.

Desert truffle mushrooms are usually fried or grilled and served with rice.

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