728 x 90

The Humble Jackfruit Stakes Claim To Five Star Status

Isn’t it paradoxical that the world’s largest fruit is also the humblest of the lot? That has been the fate of Jackfruit, produced in abundance in Kerala, but allowed to ‘drop dead’ from tree tops and decay in the sun and rain, with no one paying any heed to its tasty, highly nutritional, fulfilling content.

Isn’t it paradoxical that the world’s largest fruit is also the humblest of the lot? That has been the fate of Jackfruit, produced in abundance in Kerala, but allowed to ‘drop dead’ from tree tops and decay in the sun and rain, with no one paying any heed to its tasty, highly nutritional, fulfilling content.

Not any more, food processing experts across India say.

“Jackfruit is slowly moving into the gallery of sought-after fruits and food basics,” said one of them who is also a marketing expert. “In locations in North India, where Jackfruit is not grown or cultivated, there is a shortage currently as food processing companies are not able to procure supply from the market due to severe shortage”.

In Kerala, rainy season is also Jackfruit season. Tens of thousands of Jack trees, both wild and cultivated, bear literally lakhs of giant fruits, all of them enriched with vitamins, minerals, carbs and protein, probably a lot more in quantity than the exotic, imported fruits that adorn the supermarket shelves these days.

And yet, almost all that produce in Kerala go waste, dropping off from the trees and decomposing with no one paying any attention. Even if the fruits reach the local market, the price they command is an insult to the fruit and the farmer alike.

May be, the scenario is changing for the better, with Jackfruit and its value added siblings reaching the buffet spreads of star hotels in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi, there is a big market opening up in the north where a good fruit now fetches Rs. 100 to 150, with certain exotic verities being traded for up to Rs. 800 apiece, meaning that an optimum fruit bearing tree could bring Rs. 25,000 in income per season.

Gone are the days when Jackfruit meant chips and curries alone. Today, the fruit is being processed into halwa, pappad, jackfruit powder and a variety of other items.

This is where Kerala Government and elite agencies like KINFRA that promote food processing industry can step in and make a kill. The effort should start with promoting large-scale Jack tree orchards from where ripe fruit should be regularly picked and transported to processing plants. Only the portion which cannot be processed locally should be allowed to be exported to other states or countries.

Sensing the market potential and customer inclination, several hotels in Mumbai have organised Jackfruit festivals in the recent past.

“The response was so overwhelming, the demand so great, we had to close the show earlier than scheduled,” a hotel executive told Destination Kerala.

In Kerala too, seminars and jackfruit festivals are being conducted these days. Nutrition experts, marketing wizards, industrialists and other potential stakeholders are jumping on the bandwagon of the humble Jackfruit, as it marches, Obama-like, to the centre stage of choice fruits.

The Malayalee Diaspora across the world is one major target for them all. And with food security gaining paramount importance, a region like Kerala, producing no grains or pulses can look up to Jackfruit as a major source of nutritional food.

Like it or not, Kerala is already the biggest producer of Jackfruit in the world. Now, if only the State could wake up to its potential.

More Stories

Latest Posts