Sunday, May 15, 2011
In July 2008, I had posted in this blog on the wonderful fruit Lychee also spelt Litchi. It is one of my favourite fruits. I am happy to post again on this great fruit because this year there has been a record production. Nearly 300,000 tonnes against last year's 225,000 tonnes. Lychees are grown mostly in Bihar and that too near Muzzafarpur. 80% of the country's production is concentrated in Bihar. The flowering in lychee trees was good this year and showers in March and April helped in their growth and ripening.
Lychee has a firm and rough skin which is bright pink-red in colour. Lychees are grown abundantly in China. The fruit grows in bunches of 5 to 30 pieces in trees. The trees are very tall and in the range of 30 to 60 feet. The inside consists of a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. The texture is somewhat similar to that of a grape. The centre contains a single glossy brown nut-like seed.The fruit is commonly eaten out of hand. Lychee is also put in salads, pie and made into jams and jellies. Furthermore lychee is used to make tea. The seed can be eaten after roasting it. Lychee is also called ‘Chinese Strawberry’. In China, lychee is a symbol of romance and love.
Good production is a double-edged sword for the poor farmer. Shelf life of lychees after ripening is only a couple of days. They have to be despatched to the markets immeditaely after plucking. If smooth and fast transportation is not available, the advantages of a bumper crop are lost. If there are lychee-processing factories near the fruit plantations, it solves the dilemma of the farmers. Also Shahi lychees are the best among lychees. There is a huge demand in the export markets for this variety. Why can't Bihar produce more of these high value lychees?
Nitish Kumar's government must seriously look into increasing lychee production, in particular the Shahi variety, reduce tranportation bottlenecks and establish processing facilites in the vicinity of the lychee producing areas which the Government has been promising for many years now.