University of Colorado At Boulder
Chongcao is a traditional Chinese medicine that can only be found on the Tibetan plateau. It is the result of a parasitic relationship between the Ghost moth Larva and the fungus Cordyceps Sinensis. Chongcao is highly prized among the Chinese as a medicine and the value is reflected in the market. The price of Chongcao increased by 900% between the years 1997 and 2008 (Winkler, 2010). In 2009 the market went down a slightly due to the 2008 financial crises but the price in 2010 recovered to 2008 levels. It is currently worth twice its weight in gold. (LA Times) Chongcao appears in other Asian markets such as Korea and Japan but not nearly to the extent that it does in the Chinese market. The annual production for the entire Tibetan Plateau is estimated at 135,000kg. (Winkler, 2010) This unique demand has resulted in an economy centered on the harvest and sale of Chongcao which has changed the lifestyle of Tibetan communities.
Economics | Entomology
Crouch, Lucas, "Caterpillar Fungus of the Tibetan Plateau" (2010). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. Paper 916.