Reinventing the fruit of the masses with papad, pickles and more

Reinventing the fruit of the masses with papad, pickles and more

The stigma attached to sticky jackfruit seems to have gone away, thanks to several activities centred around the crop to explore its enormous processing potential. In the past one decade, over fifty jackfruit fairs have been organised in different parts of Karnataka.

These programmes have successfully created awareness about its potential as a food crop that could improve farmers’ fortunes. These programmes have provided a platform for innovative growers and consumers to experiment with the produce and come up with an array of traditional and modern recipes.

One such event, Halasina Santhe (jackfruit market), was recently organised in Bantwal town of Dakshina Kannada. The programme, with over 2,000 participants, showcased the potential of this versatile fruit, both as a fresh fruit and as a processed product. This event was organised by jackfruit entrepreneur Maunish Mallya with the active support of like-minded people and organisations.

Maunish had prepared different jackfruit delicacies like biriyani, manchurian, papad, pickle, chips, rawa fry, payasam and kababs for the occasion. Jackfruit wine and ice-cream were other interesting items available at the event.

Experiments to enhance the value of jackfruit through value-addition have evoked positive response. Jackfruit enthusiast Venkatakrishna has perfected a recipe of jackfruit halwa, which sells  at a price of Rs 400 per kg. The fruit is consumed at four levels of maturity - tender, raw, unripe and ripe. Seeds are also used in various preparations. Added to this, the tree is valued for its timber.

Apart from displaying the utility value of the crop, this fair also acknowledged the contribution of people in popularising the fruit. It included four students from Sahyadri College of Engineering, Mangaluru who have designed a halwa-making machine.
Collaborative efforts by several jackfruit enthusiasts, government and non-governmental agencies have changed the general perceptions about the fruit.

Development journalist Shree Padre has been the guiding force behind the campaign by connecting similar efforts across the country. Gabriel Veigas, retired deputy conservator of forests and owner of a jackfruit orchard near Mangaluru has prepared promotional leaflets for distribution at such events.

Jackfruit has immense nutritional and medicinal properties and can grow in drought-prone regions. However, jackfruit processing is a tricky task due to its sticky latex. Although the fruit was seen as an important staple four decades ago, now it is totally ignored, owing to its big size, pungent smell and massive weight.

Development of post-harvest technologies that address these issues could help
enhance the fruit’s acceptability.

Jackfruit as a monocrop is successful in Vietnam, with plantations spread in about 50,000 ha. More than 60 per cent of the yield is processed in that country. Similarly, in Panruti taluk of Tamil Nadu, farmers earn to the tune of Rs one lakh per hectare of jackfruit plantation. Curiously, even as jackfruit is struggling to get a good market in the country, it imports ackfruit chips.

Initiatives to popularise jackfruit are gaining momentum, creating much needed space for the humble fruit. Though jackfruit business has been growing at a healthy pace in the state, the demand-supply chain is yet to be tabilised. Jackfruit farmers associations have been formed to address the issue.

Fruitful interventions to connect growers, consumers, entrepreneurs and researchers could help build a strong market for this poor person’s crop.

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