It is perhaps not known to many that India is the largest producer of limes and lemons in the world with an average annual production exceeding 3 million tonnes. Acid lime in particular is widely grown across India with the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar contributing a significant share to the total production.
In Andhra Pradesh alone, acid lime is grown in almost all the districts with the semi-arid regions of Nellore, YSR Kadapa, Prakasam, Guntur, West Godavari, East Godavari and Anantapur districts producing excellent quality acid lime throughout the year. It is estimated that the average annual production of acid lime in Andhra is around 7.31 lakh metric tonnes and average productivity per hectare is 15 metric tonnes.
Nellore district has the largest area of more than 20,000 hectares under acid lime production with an average annual production of 3,16,920 metric tonnes. The world-famous Gudur market is the largest market for acid lime in the country attracting vendors from far-flung places.
Small and marginal farmers prefer to intercrop leguminous crops like soybean, groundnut, peas and others with acid lime. Local varieties, PKM1, Vikram, Rasraj, Pramalini, Balaji, Kagzi Lime, Jai Devi, Sai Sharbati, Phule Sharbati and Seedless Lime are grown in this district subject to tropical climate (hot and humid summers, cool winters and monsoon showers in October – December).
Acid limes are harvested twice or thrice in a year. A sizeable portion of the produce is sent to fruit processing plants for value-added products like essential oils, pectin, pickles, juice, marmalade, concentrate, dried candy, squash, lime cordial, dehydrated juice powder and others.
This district will benefit if more post-harvest infrastructure facilities like pre-cooling, cold storage, refrigerated vans for transport and processing units are established. This will ensure steady supply of acid lime all round the year.
Acid lime of Nellore district is now making its way to the markets of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian