|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 22 June 2012 17:06|
If anyone were to associate certain things with Dehradun, probably Basmati Rice and Litchis would be the first that would come to their mind. However, increasing urbanization has already made the once vast paddy fields a thing of the past in the Doon valley with just a handful of villages in the extreme outskirts growing authentic Basmati. And as things are going, litchis might also follow suit.
Over the years, the production of litchis has come down steadily. The markets, which used to be almost flooded with the local produce, are now starved of home grown litchis. Instead, the retailers are turning to litchis sourced from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to meet the demand. For three years running now, the production of litchis has been stooping to new lows in the valley. Last year the production in the entire state was 9000 metric tons. This year it is expected to hover around the same amount, in spite of an increase in area of plantation of litchi trees (as claimed by the Horticulture Department). Of this total production of litchis, Dehradun’s share is expected to be around 5000 metric tonnes.
A direct result of this fall in production has been a meteoric rise in the prices of litchis. Rose scented litchis are being sold at around 80 – 100 rupees a kilo. Also, no litchis could be sent to the export market this year. Three years ago, the export production of litchi had touched 70 to 75 metric tonnes mainly due to efforts of the Agri Export Development Unit (AEDU). Litchis were being exported to various countries like New Zealand, Holland and UAE. But during the past three years, exports of litchis and other fruits have received a jolt especially after the AEDU became non-functional. Various factors have been suggested for this drop in litchi production. Although there was good flowering this season, litchi growers attribute the extreme heat as the reason why there was fall in the overall production. As litchi is a fruit which requires a lot of water during the fruiting season, the heat has done considerable damage to not only the amount of produce but also to the quality of produce. This season’s litchis are expected to have larger seeds and also to be of smaller size than usual.
Although, the above mentioned are the usual reasons given for the loss of volume in production, a little reality check at the ground level by DehradunBuzz threw up some shocking stories.
Reports of orchards being cut down to ‘develop’ the land have been quite common in the recent past. The Dalanwala area of Dehradun has probably seen the most wanton felling of trees in order to build high rise apartments. However, now as the felling of trees is becoming a little more difficult due to the spotlight on this issue, certain orchard owners have resorted to more unscrupulous means of clearing their lands for sale or construction. In certain areas it has been observed that the trees are left without water supply deliberately in order to make sure that the production of litchis dwindles down to minimum levels. In extreme cases, certain chemicals are added to the roots of the trees to make the trees dry up. All this just to make sure that the land can be sold off for construction, as the windfall gains on selling the land outstrip the profit margin of litchi cultivation by a huge margin. If things go on like this, we might soon come to a juncture when for young Doonites, local litchis will just be a part of lore.