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Bihar Govt Promotes Cultivation of New Litchi Varieties Among Farmers

To boost litchi production in Bihar, the state government and the National Research Centre for Litchi (NRCL) are encouraging producers to produce newly developed varieties of the fruit by addressing concerns like as the "productivity gap" and post-harvest management.

Shivam Dwivedi
Bihar Govt Promotes Cultivation of New Litchi Varieties Among Farmers
Bihar Govt Promotes Cultivation of New Litchi Varieties Among Farmers

Bihar produces 43% of the country's litchi and has almost 35% of the country's litchi growing area, according to state Agriculture Minister Kumar Sarvjeet. "At the moment, the Bihar government and NRCL (Muzaffarpur) are working together to improve litchi production, quality, and shelf-life. Farmers are encouraged to grow newly developed kinds of the fruit in addition to expanding production of GI-tagged Shahi Litchi," according to the ministry.

Efforts are on to grow three novel litchi types -'Gandaki Yogita', 'Gandaki Sampada', 'Gandaki Lalima'- in the eastern state. The Shahi Litchi, a speciality of the north Bihar district of Muzaffarpur that was designated as a Geographical Indication (GI) a few years ago, distinguishes itself from other types due to its distinct smell, extra-juicy pulp, and smaller-than-usual seed.

After China, India is the world's second largest producer of litchi. "The contribution of Muzaffarpur district in litchi production is impressive," Bikash Das, Director, ICAR-NRCL (Muzaffarpur). "However, there is a need to increase litchi productivity. The ICAR-NRCL is charged with bridging the productivity gap through basic and strategic research in crop improvement and genetic enhancement, development of sustainable production technologies, integrated pest management systems, and post-harvest management and value addition."

Because litchi is a non-climacteric fruit with a short shelf life, post-harvest losses have been estimated to be 18-23%, according to the official. "It's another challenge to reduce losses with appropriate post-harvest management tools," the official explained. "Apart from assisting farmers in adopting new approaches to boost Shahi Litchi output, the NRCL is also encouraging them to develop newly found litchi varieties like as 'Gandaki Yogita,' 'Gandaki Sampada,' and 'Gandaki Lalima," according to Das.

According to the official, 'Gandaki Sampada,' a high-yielding and high pulp-containing variety of litchi created by ICAR-NRCL, is a late-maturing clone that ripens in mid-June. "The litchi variety Gandaki Sampada is large (35-42g) and conical in shape. The pulp is creamy-white in color, delicate and juicy, and has a lovely scent. "The variety has a high yield potential (120-140 kg/tree)," according to the director.

Similarly, 'Gandaki Yogita' is a heat-tolerant dwarf plant that grows slowly. "It has a high production potential (70-80 kg/tree) and matures between June 5 and June 15. The fruits of the Gandaki Lalima variety of litchi are conical and bright marigold-orange red in colour." According to Das, the average yield of this cultivar is 130-140 kg/tree.

According to the Bihar Economic Survey (2022-23), the state's litchi production was 308.1 metric tonnes in 2021-22, up from 308 metric tonnes in 2020-21. In 2018, Shahi Litchi received the GI label, making it a "exclusive brand" in national and international markets. The climate in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran, Begusarai, and other parts of Bihar is ideal for this cultivar. The Department of Posts recently produced a postage stamp commemorating Muzaffarpur's Shahi Litchi.

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