The lychee fruit in revolutionary red colour which stormed the city fruit market recently had been the cynosure of all eyes for about a month or so. The lovely looking, tempting, and tasty fruit soon disappeared from the market as fast as it appeared, the reason being, it is scarcely supplied by fruit traders from Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The fruit cultivation has nominal presence in Padmapuram Gardens near Araku Valley but outside it, horticulture farmers hardly knew anything about it.
Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Corporation (APMIC) project director Ram Mohan Rao told The Hindu that the climate in the district, especially in tribal areas, was ideal for growing lychee fruit plants which are in huge demand among health conscious people and fruit lovers. The moderate climate in the district is conducive for raising the plantations. The fruit has the market potential for its commercial cultivation and can be a revenue earning proposition. If horticulture farmers come forward to raise the plantations in the district, a project can be formulated and incentives being given to various horticulture crops can be applied to it by extending subsidies and incentives from the APMIC and the Department of Horticulture, he said.
The fruit contains on average a total 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. On an average 9 lychee fruits would meet an adult’s daily recommended vitamin C requirement.
A cup of liquid fruit provides, among other minerals, 14 per cent daily value of copper, 9 per cent of phosphorus, and 6 per cent daily value of potassium for a 2000-calorie diet. Like the most plant-based foods, lychees are low in saturated fat and sodium and are cholesterol free. It is known for being a fruit with hot properties and excessive consumption of the fruit can, in certain extreme cases, lead to fainting spells or skin rashes.
The lychee fruit otherwise called Litchi Chinensis, is the sole member of the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to southern China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, and now cultivated in many parts of the world.
The fresh fruit has a delicate whitish pulp with a fragrant flavour. Since the aroma is lost in canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh. An evergreen tree reaching 10–28 metres tall, the plant bears fleshy fruits that are up to 5 cm in length and 4 cm wide. The outside of the fruit is covered by a pink-red, roughly textured rind that is inedible but easily removed to expose a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh. Lychees are eaten in many different dessert dishes and are especially popular in China, throughout Southeast Asia, along with South Asia and India. The fruit has a history of cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. India is the largest producer. However, China and Taiwan come next to India in production, producing approximately 1,31,000 tonnes and 1,01,000 tonnes respectively. Although authentic data on production of lychee is not available, the total world production is estimated to be around 6.5 lakh tonnes.
There are many stories of the fruit's use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was introduced to the west in 1782. Lychee is most liked and relished fruit of India and is cultivated in an area of 63,300 hectares and total production is around 3,81,000 tonnes.
Horticulture assistant director Ramanjaneyulu said lychee cultivation will be taken up with the cooperation of ITDA and the tribal farmers will be motivated in this regard. The ITDA farm already has a small extent of lychee cultivation in its farm.