Treasured red-fleshed jackfruit

Treasured red-fleshed jackfruit

This is for the first time in India, a jackfruit variety is named after a farmer. 'Siddu jack' is the best among the varieties that we have studied in the Tumakuru region so far," says Dr G Karunakaran, senior scientist at Central Horticultural Experiment Station (CHES), Hirehalli, Tumakuru district.

Siddu jack stands out  both in taste and fruit quality. This variety has entered international market with non-resident Indians from Dubai and California placing orders for saplings. While farmers from different regions of Karnataka have bought the saplings, there is a demand for over 10,000 saplings from across the country. The success of this variety has enthused the scientists to research on four more varieties.

As part of its effort to document jackfruit varieties in Tumakuru district, which is known for its rich diversity of red-fleshed jackfruit, also called as Chandra Halasu, CHES studied the properties of the variety for three years. On an average, the tree yields 500 fruits per year. The maximum weight of the fruit doesn't exceed four kg and each fruit consists of around 30 bulbs. Once the unique properties of the variety were established, it was named after the farmer, S K Siddappa, from whose farm the fruit was collected.

His son, S S Paramesh, was honoured for protecting and promoting the variety. CHES has made a three-year contract with the owners of the tree to multiply the variety, and sells grafted saplings at Rs 150 per plant. While the owners get 75% of the income, the research station gets 25%.  

Though jackfruit is grown extensively in Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga and other districts, Tumakuru jackfruit stands out for its taste and firm bulbs.  Tumakuru is the only district in the country where red-fleshed jackfruit is produced in such large quantities.  

Motivated by the recent success of Siddu jackfruit, Paramesh has planted different jack varieties, including the ones from other countries, in his farm. "So far, people from CHES have collected scions eight times. I didn't expect such a good demand for this variety. Now I want to learn the skill of grafting and set up a nursery," says Paramesh. He also intends to have plants that yield in different seasons so that there is jackfruit yield throughout the year.  

While farmers appreciate the persistent efforts of Karunakaran to document the rare varieties of the district, Karunakaran acknowledges the support and guidance of Dr M R Dinesh, director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru.  

So far, the team has documented 129 varieties. They have been classified based on colour, quality, size, taste etc. The research station plans to name other varieties after their owners as well. It has invited interested farmers to register their names for this. Each variety will be studied for three years to understand its properties to approve for multiplication.  

Incidentally, Cheluru and Madhugiri are well known for their jackfruit markets. It is estimated that Cheluru supplies 25 truckloads of raw and ripe fruits every day to different regions of the country during the season. The district, which is also known for off-season fruits, supplies raw jackfruit, which is used as a vegetable, to various cities. Halli Siri self-help group in Tovinakere has been making over 90 value-added products from jackfruit.

Karunakaran feels that such value-addition efforts would further improve the prospects of both farmers and jackfruit. One can contact Dr G Karunakaran on 9483233804.

(Translated by Anitha Pailoor)

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