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Heatwave to Hit Bihar’s Litchi, Mango Farmers; Could Reduce Yield by a Quarter

More than 90% of mango and litchi orchards are located in districts that are currently experiencing heatwaves and have been experiencing high temperatures since last month.

Binita Kumari
More than 90% of mango and litchi orchards are located in districts that are currently experiencing heatwaves and have been experiencing high temperatures since last month.
More than 90% of mango and litchi orchards are located in districts that are currently experiencing heatwaves and have been experiencing high temperatures since last month.

Bihar's mango and litchi growers are struggling from the current heatwave. Experts and farmers in the state have informed Down to Earth that this summer's harvest will not be great. On the contrary, they claim that yields could drop by a quarter or more.

According to official data given by the India Meteorological Department's Patna Centre on April 25, 2022, 17 of Bihar's 38 districts are experiencing a heatwave.

Banka district reported the highest temperature of 43.2°C, followed by Gaya district with 42.6°C and Patna with 42.4°C. Temperatures of 42°C or higher were recorded in nine districts, including Bhagalpur and West Champaran. Temperatures in other districts ranged from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius.

More than 90% of mango and litchi orchards are located in districts that are currently experiencing heatwaves and have been experiencing high temperatures since last month.

Early high temperatures, followed by repeated spells of heat, are part of climate change, according to Abdus Sattar, an agro-meteorologist at the Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, in the Samastipur district.

Summer fruits such as mango and litchi have been harmed as a result of this. He went on to say that rising temperatures, high humidity, and a lack of moisture are all harmful to mango and litchi growth. Unexpected heavy rains, unexpectedly high temperatures, and heatwaves, according to Sattar, have harmed litchi and mango in recent years.

Fruit droppings have been a major source of complaint among farmers. Fruit size and quality will almost certainly be affected.

"Because of the early fruit setting and maturity of the Shahi litchi, a distinct variety of litchi from Muzaffarpur, the impact of rising temperatures on the Shahi litchi was reduced. "However, a popular kind of China litchi was seriously impacted," Pandey noted. All of this, he admitted, was due to climate change. "Climate change is real," he continued, "with temperature swings and sudden heatwaves causing havoc on litchi harvests."

Daytime temperatures in Muzaffarpur and its surrounding regions have already surpassed 40 degrees Celsius. In light of rising temperatures, the NRCL has encouraged farmers to water orchards to supply moisture.

"In the second half of April, we usually expect temperatures over 30°C and below 35°C for smooth fruit setting and less dropping," Pandey added.

Litchi production will be reduced by 2530% this time, according to Mohammad Feza Ahmad, horticulture and fruit scientist at the Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour in Bhagalpur district. Farmers were urged to maintain the fruit setting by using frequent light irrigation up until May 15, according to Ahmad.

"In light of climate change, the state government should develop a scheme to give irrigation facilities to mango and litchi orchards." As different studies have shown, weather whims and unexpected temperature increases will become more common," he stated.

"Litchi is grown in a microclimate that is specific to it. For natural growth, the temperature should not be too low or too hot at this time. Climate change also affects sugar assimilation, resulting in low-quality litchis and mango," Ahmad explained.

"We are helpless since the weather is playing truant with litchi farmers," said Bachcha Singh, a litchi farmer and head of the Litchi Utpadak Sangh. Climate change, according to Litchi scientists, is to blame, and the trend is expected to continue."

Litchi orchards cover over 12,000 hectares in Muzaffarpur, and litchi cultivation covers nearly 32,000 hectares across Bihar. Nearly 40% of India's litchi production comes from this region. Litchi is grown on roughly 98,000 hectares of land.

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