London welcomes Pathankot ‘Litchi’ in historic export

London welcomes Pathankot ‘Litchi’ in historic export

London welcomes Pathankot ‘Litchi’ in historic export

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In the very first, the luscious ‘litchi’ grown in Pathankot, Punjab, will grace the markets of London. A huge consignment of 10 quintals was dispatched from the Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in Amritsar.

This was possible due to a joint export initiative between the Punjab Horticulture Department and the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), a Centre-sponsored organization.

Punjab’s Director of Horticulture expressed that the state government facilitated this groundbreaking venture. It acted as a bridge between local litchi producers and international exporters. “Initially, the idea of sending a small quantity was to spread the word overseas about the superior quality and taste of Pathankot litchi,” she stated.

This export marks a strategic move by the Punjab Government to diversify agricultural practices. It will help in encouraging farmers to shift from traditional, water-intensive crops like paddy and wheat to more sustainable horticultural crops. This shift aims not only to boost farmers’ incomes but also to address the region’s critical groundwater depletion issues.

“Exporting litchis is a pivotal step in this broader strategy. Following this, other bountiful crops like kinnow and guava could be exported similarly,” she added.

Pathankot’s sub-mountainous terrain, high humidity, and fertile soil make it ideal for litchi cultivation, contributing about 60% of Punjab’s litchi production. Typically, 48 trees are planted per acre, each yielding approximately 80-100 kg of litchi, with the harvesting season spanning from June 10 to July 10.

The Horticulture Officer and state nodal officer for the litchi project highlighted that APEDA, guided by Chairperson Abhishek Dev and Punjab’s Chief Secretary KAP Sinha, connected with litchi buyers in London. This venture is expected to fetch five times the price available in India. 

“Since this is an experimental export project, it will operate on a ‘no profit, no loss’ basis for the producers. Once the market is established in London, it will significantly increase their income. The litchi, sold for Rs 100 per kg in India, is expected to sell for no less than Rs 500 per kg in London,” he said.

In Punjab, two primary litchi varieties, Dehradun and Calcutta, are cultivated across districts including Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Nawashahr, Hoshiarpur, and Ropar, covering nearly 3,900 hectares. Approximately 2,200 hectares are dedicated to litchi production in the Pathankot region alone. This strategic push aims to enhance profitability for litchi farmers by expanding production and tapping into international markets. 

On the domestic front, Pathankot litchis are distributed to markets in New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.