Bihar to display Shahi lychees before foreign diplomats


Patna : Bihar is keen on exporting the luscious Shahi variety of lychees. Farmers from the state will showcase their produce before the diplomatic corps of 40 countries and their families in the national capital over the weekend.

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Ten farmers from Muzaffarpur district, known for its succulent Shahi lychees, are participating in the three-day event Sangam 2009 – an inter-state horticulture fair organised by the agriculture ministry in Delhi.

“The farmers will display the rare variety before officials of 40 embassies at the fair. It will be the first such move to popularise the Shahi litchi through foreign embassies,” said K.K. Kumar, director of National Research Centre for Litchi at Muzaffarpur, about 70 km from here.

The lychees being showcased have been selected from 10 orchards, Kumar said, adding: “The farmers have been specially trained to popularise the fruit among the foreign visitors at the fair.”

Baccha Prasad Singh, a lychee grower, said farmers were upbeat. “This is the first opportunity we got to showcase our produce for marketing abroad,” he added.

Muzaffarpur and its neighbouring districts account for almost 70 percent of India’s lychee production. The number of farmers in the state growing the drupe fruit has increased in the last decade, especially in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring areas along the river Gandak.

However, in a report last year, the World Bank noted that lychees good enough for export were being grown in only about 10 percent of the 2,000-odd orchards in Muzaffarpur.

Countries importing the fruit from India include the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Canada, Russia and Yemen.

The Vitamin C-rich drupe fruit is also grown in other Asian nations such as China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Pakistan.