Litchi farmers in West Bengal’s Malda district are set to witness a record production of about 15,000 metric tonne this year due to favourable weather condition and adequate rainfall, an official said on Thursday.
Last year, the production of the summer fruit was around 12,000 metric tonne, the district horticulture department’s deputy director Krishnendu Nandan said.
Litchi has been cultivated around 1,420 hectare of land this year, up from the coverage of 1,380 hectare in 2020, he said, adding that no major damage to the fruit due to nor’wester or hailstorms and pest attack was reported this season.
“We see the area under litchi cultivation in Malda is growing by around 40-50 hectare every year. The summer fruit is mostly produced in Kaliachak and Ratua areas. Farmers have started harvesting the fruit and are expected to get a better price this time,” Nandan said.
However, farmers are apprehensive of making good profits as COVID-related restrictions in several states, could affect the transport of the summer crop to other parts of West Bengal and neighbouring states such as Bihar and Jharkhand.
“Last year, we had a bumper production, but could not fetch a remunerative price due to the coronavirus pandemic. This time too, COVID-restrictions are there. Big traders are not able to visit us, and there could be transport issues,” a litchi farmer
Countering the farmers’ apprehension, the official said litchi is being sold around Rs 70-80 a kg in Malda markets, while the same is available at Rs 120-150 in South Bengal districts.
“According to market estimates, Malda’s litchi growers could fetch a margin of around Rs 10-20 per kg more than last year,” Nandan said.