According to a recent survey report of a senior scientist of Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bangalore,Litchi grown over one acre of land in Muzaffarpur can be sold at a minimum price of Rs 10 lakh in UK. The horticulture scientist has claimed in her comprehensive report that being the costliest fruit in the world, fresh litchi is sold at the rate of Rs 500 to Rs 1200 per kg in different parts of the globe.
Under commercial farming in Muzaffarpur, 50 kgs of shahi litchi is produced from every developed tree on an average. Normally 40 litchi trees are grown in one acre. If the production of one tree is sold at the rate of even Rs 500 per kg, it might fetch Rs 25,000 and from 40 trees the total return might be Rs 10 lakh. This is like a dream for a litchi grower of Muzaffarpur as they sold litchi at the rate of only Rs 5 per kg last year and the situation has not changed this year too.
The rate of Muzaffarpur litchi is decided garden-wise during pre-harvest period by contractors and commission agents mainly from UP and Delhi. Whereas the growers get Rs 5 for one kg on an average, a consumer of Delhi and other distant places of the country has to pay up to Rs 49 for the same. It is only the farmers who are at loss. Lack of cool chain system, refrigerated vans and cargo planes has deprived local growers. Government assurances in the past has been nothing but lip service to them. To expect export of even 50 per cent of total produce has remained a distant dream for growers. They have failed to tap even the national markets of the south. Litchi growers Bholanath Jha and Heera Singh said that litchi is grown over 26000 hectares in Bihar and the total production comes to around 3 lakh tonnes every year. Even if one lakh tonne is properly exported, a sum of Rs 500 crore can be earned every year from Bihar alone.
Sudha Mysore has claimed in her report that India enjoys the status of being the second largest litchi producer after China but its market share in the world is only 1 per cent because of transport problems and lack of government support. Global trade of litchi is dominated by South Africa and Thailand where it is harvested for a longer and varied duration in comparison to only 25 days of May-June in India. Her survey indicates that a vast market of European Union is still untapped for Indian litchi.
The harvest season of Muzaffarpur litchi is to start from May 20 onward. The fruit is growing fast. The cloudy weather and delay in the onset of Westerly winds have already damaged the crop specially China variety upto 25 per cent. Still, the prospect is not to bad, according to a farmer. Big farmers have invested enough money on insecticide spray and irrigation. Purchasers from UP have started visiting gardens and bargains are on. But government agencies, still engaged in election duty are yet to meet and solve problems of the farmers.