Muzaffarpur: A massive flowering of Shahi litchi crop has raised hopes of a bumper production of the fruit in Muzaffarpur and its adjoining areas this year. But it is feared that if the state government fails to arrange proper marketing of the fruit and that too on time, litchi growers might have to suffer a huge loss.
A farmer of Jhapaha area under Bochaha Bholanath Jha said he had not seen such a huge ‘manjar’ (flowering) on litchi trees in the last two decades. “If nature helps during the next two months, sale of this short-duration fruit would be a major problem for traders and farmers. It is high-time the state government should start preparations for its supply from Muzaffarpur to metro cities through cool chain system,” said Jha.
Principal scientist of National Litchi Research Centre (NLRC) Sushil Kumar Purve suggested a number of measures to prevent attack of top borer insect on the fruit which had extensively damaged the crop at some places upto 80%, last year. He has advised spraying of Planofix medicine on trees in appropriate proportion with water after 15 days from now and then to spray Emidocloropiol after a gap of three days. “Farmers would have to maintain the moisture of the orchard when fruit-setting starts in the next 15 days. Every tree would need irrigation if there is no rain by that time,” he said.
Purve said the flowering is excellent on Shahi variety but is less on China variety. He said the farmers must adopt bagging of fruit bunches from the last week of April upto five days prior to harvesting in order to avoid sun-burn and cracking of the fruit. Muzaffarpur DM Dharmendra Singh seems to be serious on preventing the recurrence of borer attack on Shahi litchi this year. He organised two meetings of officers of agriculture, horticulture, NLRC and big growers recently and asked farmers to follow prescribed methods and devices to avert the disease this year.
According to a rough estimate, whereas Muzaffarpur litchi is sold at Rs 250 per kg in Chennai, Rs. 200 in Mumbai and Rs 150 in Delhi, it is sold at Rs 20 per kg in Muzaffarpur. On an average, Bihar produces 4 lakh tonnes of litchi every year with cultivation on about 30,000 acres of land.