Realising potential of jack

In fact, even today, more than half of the jackfruits go waste without even harvesting. Though many love to have it in the beginning of the season, the villagers slowly develop a kind of aversion over a period of time, perhaps due to the large quantity of jackfruits produced in almost every backyard in rural areas.

In fact, many people leave the fruits on the tree itself, as the fruit does not fetch good price in rural areas (of course the middlemen make good money by selling it in cities!)
But not any more. Of late, many farmers have realised the potential of jackfruit (also known as Kalpavruksha) as every piece of jackfruit or tree has multi-uses. Be it the simple payasam or jackfruit curry or the value addition products like chips, papads or squash, the fruit can produce several products. At the same time, the tree remains for centuries and offers valuable timber when grown while the leaves too are of some use.

Speaking to City Herald, progressive farmer and rainwater harvesting expert Shree Padre said that about 75 per cent of jackfruits are wasted and Kerala alone accounts for about 35 crore jackfruits annually. “Assuming that one jackfruit costs only Rs 3 and the national average waste is only 50 per cent, India is losing Rs 214 crore worth of food every year,” he says and cites an example of Kerala, where farmers used to hang a board on their jackfruit tree saying: “Anybody can pluck jackfruit from this tree!”

Though a large number of jackfruits are grown in the region, very few attempts have been made to commercialise the same.

In a bid to popularise the jackfruit, Dr D C Chowta, a progressive farmer from Meeyapadavu, a small village on the northern most part of Kerala adjoining Karnataka, organised one such jackfruit fest to identify the best varieties in the vicinity and develop them. As many as 45 farmers took part in the contest and four judges te(a)sted the fruits to judge the quality of the variety they grow.

Jackfruits on display at the contest at Meeyapadav.Venkatakrishna Sharma, a farmer from Alike village in Dakshina Kannada district and one of the judges for the contest, said that he has already planted nearly 75 saplings of 23 varieties of jackfruit in an acre.

He said that the judgement of the variety is based on the taste, texture, crispness and hardness among other factors.

Subramanya Bhat, one of the participants said that he sold over one tonne of jackfruit last year and over two tonnes this year. On the other hand, Anil Kumar, who runs a nursery in Puttur said he is now getting more enquiries for grafted varieties of jackfruit.
Explaining the different uses of jackfruit, Shree Padre said that there is a need to plant different varieties of jack trees so that the grower gets the yield round the year (even in off season) unlike other seasonal fruits and attempts are being made towards the same.

“Before that, we have to shed our mental block or inferiority complex about this wonder fruit,” he rues.

In a lighter vein, Chowta said that there was a time when every household in village used to store jackfruit gum for use, but the Fevicol replaced jackfruit gum. “Hope a time comes when Fevicol will be replaced again by jackfruit gum.”

Perhaps its time for those who have been neglecting jackfruit to look at it in a different way. Hail jackfruit, the fruit of fruits!


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