Development of the Value Chain of Litchi: The Untapped Potential
Litchi – the delicious and translucent juicy fruit is fairly popular in both India and the international market and majorly consumed as a table fruit. Cultivated in an area of 96 thousand Ha, India is the second-largest producer of litchi with a production of 721 thousand MT.
Bihar is often at the focal point, it is one of the largest producers of vegetables and the third-largest producer of fruits in India. In terms of litchi, production from Bihar can be found in all the major markets of India, and Litchi produced in the Muzaffarpur region especially, particularly ‘shahi’ litchi, is famous for its taste and flavor.
Major varieties of Litchi grown in Muzaffarpur include China, Shahi, and Rose Scented. While China variety accounts for the majority of the crop in the district, in the Kanti block significant quantum of Shahi litchi is cultivated. Recently rose-scented variety is also being adopted by the farmers. Grown in the cluster of Muzzafarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran, Begusarai districts, Shahi Litchi got the GI certification from Bihar in 2018.
While litchi is fairly popular in both the domestic and international markets, a lot needs to be done by the producer within a very short period of time owing to the short period of cultivation. Only a small quantity of the total produce goes in for processing which can be increased by engaging major industry players, handholding farmers in terms of finances, technology, and skill development.
Hence to boost value addition, exports as well as value realization of farmers, the Government has been taking initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Enterprises which adopts One District One Product ODOP) approach to reap the benefit of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services, and marketing of products. During the recent budget, the scope of the Operation Greens scheme was also enlarged to 22 perishable products from just Tomato, Onion, and Potato, which included litchi now.
Agriculture and processed food production export Development Authority (APEDA) collaborated with the Department of Agriculture, Bihar, and relevant stakeholders such as farmers, exporters, etc. for facilitating exports of Shahi Litchi. Recently season’s first consignment of Shahi Litchi from Bihar was exported to the United Kingdom.
A dedicated National Research Centre on Litchi is also conducting research to address the productivity gap in areas of crop improvement and genetic enhancement, development of sustainable production techniques, and integrated pest management systems.
Invest India through its dedicated Investment facilitation cell at the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is supporting the ministry with creating awareness of recent initiatives, connecting FPOs with major processors, and promoting value addition to reduce wastage.
There is vast untapped potential and immense scope to boost production as well as exports of Litchi from the country. Collaborative efforts of the various stakeholders involved in the processing, production, and procurement of Litchi will definitely enhance the development of the Litchi Value chain in India.