BARC helps develop new preservation technique for litchi fruits

Scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the National Research Centre on Litchi at Muzafarnagar have succeeded in developing a new process for treating litchi and preserving it for 60 days at low temperature.

Inaugurating the new litchi processing facility at Muzaffarnar, Bihar, union agriculture and farmers welfare minister Radha Mohan Singh said that this technique will be useful for the litchi producers and businessmen.

Singh also said that to make this technique effective, litchi producers will have to produce superior quality fruits for which National Research Centre on Litchi has developed several techniques. The National Research Centre on Litchi is providing about 35-40 thousand plants every year to various institutions/states in the country.

He said the National Research Centre on Litchi is working closely with other institutions of ICAR and agricultural universities of the state and the development centres of the central and state governments like the National Horticulture Board, APEDA, National Horticulture Mission etc.

Singh said ICAR's Farmers First project in East Champaran district has helped 1,000 families from 8 villages (Mehsi Block-Uzhilpur, Bakri Najir, Damodarpur Village, Chakia Block- Khairwa, Ramgarha, Jishnupura, Ojha Tola- Vaishah and Chintanpur-Malahi Tola village) to reap the benefits of several new techniques.

Besides, he said, the central government has initiated Health Card scheme through which orchards are being examined and farmers are being sensitised.

Bihar is the top litchi producing state in India, where about 300,000 metric tonnes of litchi is being produced from 32,000 hectare areas, Singh noted.

Bihar contribution about 40 per cent of the country's litchi production. Considering the importance of litchi, National Research Centre on Litchi was established on 6 June 2001.

Singh said that the contribution of Muzaffarpur district in litchi's production is impressive, but there is a need to increase the productivity of litchi, which is currently 8.0 tonne per hectare. For this, all the government institutions, cooperatives and farmers will have to come forward.

He said litchi fruit farming can be successfully done in other parts of the country too. Therefore, there is a need to promote research in these areas too.