BALLIA (UP), May 21 (PTI): Farmers in a dusty village of Ballia district in eastern UP are pioneering the art of growing the famous Shahi (Royal) Litchis and expanding the horizons by taking the succulent fruit to other markets in the country.
Nirupur village located 13 kilometers from the district headquarters, has become a hub for the production of the famous Shahi Litchis.
Raja Shankar Tiwari, who retired from the Railway Protection Force, is one of the farmers who is about to bring Nirupur village into the limelight by producing the high quality litchi fruit.
Tiwari, was one of the pioneers of Litchi farming in Nirupur, told PTI that in 2013, after his retirement, he started litchi plantation after reading somewhere that a tree gives an output of Rs 90 lakhs in its entire life.
“After retirement, I went to Muzaffarpur and learned about litchi horticulture at Litchi Research Center and planted 230 royal (Shahi) litchi trees and 200 mango trees in two hectares of land in Dopahi Mouja of our village,” said Tiwari.
Over the years some other villagers in Nirupur and nearby villages followed suit and dedicated themselves to grow litchi in the area, which is traditionally not known for the fruit.
The decade-long efforts resulted in high litchi yield. “Eight tonnes of litchi is expected to be produced this year on our farm,” said Tiwari.
Besides the high litchi production, the farms also provide jobs to villagers and are a source of an alternate income. For almost six months during the fruiting and harvesting season, villagers are hired as workers.
Tiwari says that over 30 villagers work at his farm and over Rs 1.5 lakh is spent every month as their salaries.
Munnan of Pindari village, neighboring the Nirupur village, is associated with this work for the last several years. Munnan said due to rising litchi cultivation in the area he easily gets a job as a worker and earns up to Rs 10,000 a month.
Tiwari said earlier, litchi and mango produced in the village were sold in the local market only. Due to this the profit was less. “In the last three years we have started selling litchi in markets outside the state.
“This has helped us get good rates for our produce. As of now, we sent packed lirchis to markets in Mumbai, Delhi and Nashik by train,” Tiwari said, adding that he and some other farmers are also in talks with exporters, who are interested in getting their produce shipped to Dubai and other places in the Gulf.
“We are hopeful that we can get four to five times the price we are getting currently for our litchis if they are exported to markets in Dubai,” Tiwari remarked.
Talking about the problem they face, the farmers said that lack of long distance transport facilities in Ballia is affecting their business. Besides Litchi, the farmers of the area also grow mangoes of Langra, Dussehri and Chausa variety.
District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar said that farmers of Nirupur like Tiwari are taking the horticulture sector of the district forward.
“The administration will ensure that the farmers get full benefits of the government schemes and their issues are resolved in a timely manner,” said the DM.