Beltangady, Jun 18: The two-day state-level jackfruit fest, organized to emphasize the market potential of the fruit concluded at Dharmasthala, Beltangady taluk on Monday June 18,
The fest was organized under the joint aegis of Agriculture Research Centre, Brahmavar and Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project, Dharmasthala and in association of Krushi Samaj, Mangalroe and Varanashi Research Foundation, Adyanadka, Dakshina Kannada district.
Jackfruit comes in a variety of sizes, tastes and delicacies. The jackfruit fest was first introduced in Karnataka with Uravu – 2007 and Kadamba – 2008, followed by similar fests in Sirsi, Thirtahalli, Nittoor, Bangalore, Mangalore and also in Kerala. Mega jackfruit fests are being held in Malnad regions every year.
The publicity has also helped to tap the market for jackfruit, with the demand for jackfruit products rising in recent years.
Jackfruit sustained the poor during severe scarcity of food in the past. There are a few veterans in our midst, who survived on jackfruit in tough times. However, now it’s a neglected fruit, many a time going waste.
Jackfruit tree is a massive tree that blooms during January – February and fruits ripen during May – June. It grows best in red soil in the coastal districts. The taste and size depend on the varieties of trees. One can identify the varieties on the basis of taste.
Jackfruit saplings have to be planted at a distance of 10 mt from each pit. The plant grows lush during summer if irrigated. Fencing can protect the plants from grazing cattle. The plants nurtured for five to six years grow into trees and yield in a few years. The planting of lemon trees, plantains, and other fruits or vegetables in between the spaces can earn substantial income. Nearly 100 plants can be planted on a hectare. The grafted plants begin to give fruit early. A tree can give two or three fruits initially while a tree which is 10 years old can give 20-30 fruits.
A Bangalore-based agriculture university has made an effort to include jackfruit farming commercially. Sri Padre, a crusader for jackfruit sustenance, says, “If the people who undervalue the benefits of jackfruit have to change their notions and convince themselves to achieve its market potentials.”
Times have changed with rising demands for jackfruits and its by-products. It is helping the women supplement their income by making ‘papadams’, chips, jams, and other products. Kadamba Marketing Co-operative Society, based in Uttar Kannada district, has created a record by buying 1.5 lac papadams and 600 kgs of chips in the last year.
The neighbouring state of Kerala is exporting jackfruit and its delicacies to Gulf countries. Its a safe food and also benefits small farmers. The graded powder of jackfruit seeds and other products also has export potential. Nearly 5,000 people sell jackfruit and other products in Sri Lanka besides packed products that are available in supermarkets, vegetable markets, and grocery shops.
Jackfruit has medical benefits too, since 100 gm of jackfruit has 303 mg of potassium that is known to lower high blood pressure in patients who suffer from it. Further research can unravel more health benefits. Its root and white substance of bark also has health benefits.
India ranks second in the world in jackfruit produce, but has not achieved any significant export potential so far. It’s essential that people have to be educated to grow jackfruit plants on their farms and the government had to introduce mechanization of various processes in retaining the purity and standardization of the process. Large scale farming is advisable with training and sustaining superior varieties of jackfruit trees.