In what can be described as a major boost for the small and marginal farmers in Assam’s Sonitpur district, chief minister of the northeastern state, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, today officially launched an initiative to export the famous ‘Tezpur litchi’ to London. A Geographical Indication (GI) protected fruit, the lychee grown in this part of the region is known for its distinct quality, mouth-watering flavour, juicy pulp and an attractive red colour. The squash prepared from this fruit is highly sought after.

‘Tezpur litchi’ is counted as one of the most important organic products of Assam. And the move to send homegrown lychees to the UK is expected to dramatically increase production at the historically well-known ‘Lichu Pukhuri orchard’ among other farms in Tezpur. This, in turn, will improve the economic condition of small and marginal farmers in the district. Among the popular varieties of lychee grown in Sonitpur district are Bombaiya, Piyaji, Bilatee, Shahi and Elaichi. Known for its unique sweet, musky and acidic taste, this lychee was accorded the GI tag in 2015.

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The fruit will be exported by Agnigarh Farmer Producer Company via Kiega Exims - a collaboration between the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Meanwhile, the packaging of the produce will be done at the Tezpur Convention Centre. The initiative is backed by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART) and the district administration among others.

Image credit: Twitter/@himantabiswa. Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma has launched the initiative today


Announcing the news on his official Twitter handle, the chief minister wrote: “Delighted to launch the export of Tezpur Litchi, which has been given geographical indication (GI) tag for its excellent quality & pleasant flavor, to  London by Agnigarh Farmer Producer Company through Kiega Exims at Tezpur Convention Center in Sonitpur dist. Kiega Exims is a joint collaboration of AAU, Agriculture department, Sonitpur and NABARD supported by APEDA, APART, BNCA, AAU, Tezpur University & district administration. The export of lychees will help in uplifting the economic condition of small & marginal farmers in the dist (sic).” He also shared a few pictures from the launch along with the tweet.

Considered an important sub-tropical evergreen fruit tree, litchi chinensis is harvested between May and June every year. The tree starts bearing fruit some 5-6 years after it’s planted. February-March is usually the time when it begins flowering. It grows best in a frost-free moist atmosphere, with abundant rainfall. Wet spring, dry summer and light winter are considered congenial climatic conditions for growing lychees. The ‘Tezpur litchi’ is a rich source of Vitamin B, C, while it also contains some amounts of protein, fat, pectin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and iron, besides other nutrients.

In the domestic market, lychees from Tezpur are transported in large numbers to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Rajasthan. The ‘Lichu Pukhuri orchard’ spans across five bighas of land, and it was set up by the then chairman of Tezpur Municipal Board, noted literary figure, the late Padmanath Gohain Baruah. It came into existence some time between 1922 and 1924. Lychees are also widely grown in the 400-bigha Poruwa orchard, which was created in 1954 by the late Surjya Prasad Singh.