When life gives you a lemon, you always don’t make lemonade. Sometimes you send it abroad and reap hefty benefits. The Assamese seedless lemons or the ‘Kazi Nemu’ are particularly in demand in London.
If you happen to visit the Al-Hamra Supermarket at Northampton in England East Midland region, you would be lucky to get these.
Transcending boundaries, the ‘Kazi Nemu has made its way into the markets of London despite the pandemic.
“People in London are loving it. I am excited that lemons from my garden have been able to satiate the tangy taste buds of the people in England. This is for the first time that 1,200 kilograms of Kazi Nemu were exported to London. It was an experiment and a risk at the same time. Luckily it clicked, people in London come asking for Assam lemon” says Madan Basumatary, a lemon farmer.
A farmer from Panbari of Bijni in lower Assam, Madan Basumatary grows these lemons in his one-hectare farm land which he started in 2017. He has around 360 bushes of Kazi Nemu. The lemons are harvested four times a month and in a year the produce is nearly 30-50 metric tonnes. In 2019, Basumathary had sent 2 MT lemons to Dubai and Kolkata.
“As lemon is a good source of vitamin C which is a must in meals in these Covid times, I think this must have clicked in London. People there take Assam lemons as an immunity booster. Next week another 2 MT lemons shall be shipped to London. I get Rs 2 per lemon and earn around Rs 4-5 lakh annually. I have two permanent labourers to look after the bushes. Though lemons need less water, I have irrigation facilities in place to tide arid situations” says Basumatary.
Nemu is an integral party of traditional Assamese cuisine where many preparations are predominantly tangy. A lavish squeeze of lemon in the simple fishy curry makes it the most savoured “Masor Tenga”. A lemon bush in the backyard, where Kazi Nemu now with the GI tag is grown abundantly is a tradition in every household in the state.
Indigenous to Assam, the lemon has certain uniqueness in terms of quality which is essentially attributable to its place of origin, Assam. ‘Kaji Nemu is widely used for culinary, beverages, industrial and medicinal uses. It is comparatively larger than the regular lemon. It has a tendency of cluster bearing habit which generally produces seedless fruits with 9-12 segments.
Earlier, between December 2020 and January 2021, a massive consignment of this variety of lemon, weighing nearly 6 MT was exported to the European markets.
Further ‘Leteku,’ the Burmese grapes, grown in the Darrang district of Assam, were exported to Dubai. The consignment was traded by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) from LGBI Airport in Guwahati to Dubai through Delhi.
“The export of Lemon during the lockdown has been a great achievement for me. It not only has opened up a new vista of trade and commerce for our very local products but have inspired us to think beyond” says Basumatary.