Muzaffarpur litchi growers upset over ‘unkept’ promises, say no point voting
Litchi is cultivated on about 25,000 hectares of land in Muzaffarpur. “We need a cooling channel to preserve the fruits for a few days and send them to big cities,” says Diwakar Mishra of Kudhani village.Updated: May 05, 2019, 15:19 IST
Bholanath Jha, a litchi grower of Jhapha village in Muzaffarpur, says he feels cheated when he sees politicians campaigning in his area and making new promises when the ones made during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections have not been fulfilled.
“The litchi has short shelf life and is perishable in a short span. We have not been provided proper marketing yard, cooling vans to export or send consignments outside Bihar for a lucrative income,” he laments.
Jha is not alone. many litchi growers feel their voice has not been heard.
Litchi is cultivated on about 25,000 hectares of land in Muzaffarpur. “We need a cooling channel to preserve the fruits for a few days and send them to big cities,” says Diwakar Mishra of Kudhani village.
“If we get cooling vans, the financial condition of litchi growers will improve,” says Shahid Choudhary of Mustafapur village.
In absence of this facility, the juicy fruit is sold at throwaway price of Rs 50 to 70 per kg. “If the same reaches big cities after packing in cooling vans, it will fetch good income,” says Md Nizam of Sumaira village.
Expressing displeasure, another litchi grower of Bochahan, Tanvir Alam, says more than 55,000 farmers were involved in litchi cultivation in Muzaffarpur but their long pending demands have not been fulfilled.
“For long, the entire market of litchi has been grabbed by middlemen. Big buyers from Mumbai, New Delhi, Punjab, Kanpur and Haryana come here and purchase the standing crop of litchi in the orchard itself at throwaway price with the help of local middlemen,” says Sohanlal, a litchi farmer of Bochahan.
Litchi farmers have little hopes from main contestants, Ajay Kumar Nishad of BJP and Raj Bhushan Choudhary Nishad of Vikassheel Insaan Party(vip).
“Nishad had earlier also served as an MP but I don’t hope he will bring cheers on the faces of litchi growers,” laments Dipak Kumar, another farmer of Mushahri.
The state government has not brought litchi under the harvest insurance scheme, says Suman Kuman, adding that the litchi crop gets damaged every year because of vagaries of nature.
Recalling promises of NDA leaders in 2014 to start air cargo service from Patahi airstrip near Muzaffarpur, Badri Prasad, a prominent litchi farmer, says the promise was never fulfilled.
Litchi farmers in Muzaffarpur account for 1.50 lakh tonnes of produce out of the total four lakh tonnes production in the state.
“The farmers had met union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh several times, but nothing has been done to boost litchi production,” rues Sudarshan Singh of Ruhuva.
The litchi farmers of Jhapha, Sharfuddinpur, Bochahan, Sakra and Bandra areas of Muzaffarpur are not in favour to support any candidate in the fray.