By Ajay Kumar
Muzzafarpur (Bihar), May 25 : Leechi lovers in India may not be able to access the popular and juicy Shahi Leechi of Bihar's Muzaffarpur District in good quantity this year, as bad weather has badly affected this year's Leechi crop
Bihar produces nearly 400,000 tonnes of Leechis, grown in orchards spread over nearly 28,000 hectares of land.
Muzzafarpur is famous for its Shahi Leechi. There is a big demand for Leechi from Muzzaffarpur around the world, particularly in European countries.
The annual production from this region is estimated to be worth a billion rupees (or rupees 100 crore).
Farmers, who are today sorting out the rotten Leechis, are in despair, as they also have to bear the burden of repaying loans taken from banks and local moneylenders. They have sought the government's help.
"We supply Leechis to all parts of the country. We take loans from the bank to buy garden but the weather has destroyed our crops. I feel that it will be difficult for me to pay back the loan that I have taken. If we get some help from the government, it'll be very good for us and we'll not have to take loan from the bank. But the government is not helping us in any way," said Bhola Nath Jha, a farmer and orchard owner.
However, this year, the growers of Leechis were a disillusioned lot right from the outset since the fruits were not of the usual size.
"Muzzafarpur in Bihar is known as the Leechi city and in the last three to four days the temperature has continuously gone up to 43 and 45 degree Celsius. Due to the rise in temperature the Leechis had dried up and after that heavy rainfall caused fruits to crack up nearly 50 per cent of Leechis have destroyed. Businessmen are apprehending much problem as the farmers don't have money," said Rizwan Alam, one Leechi businessman.
"The government is not paying any attention towards the Leechi growers. They have around a billion for the Bagbani Mission and I think the Bihar Government has also got nearly about 80 to 90 crores (800 to 900 million rupees). They find it difficult to plant Leechi trees," he added.