Once considered a common man’s fruit, jackfruit has now entered into the list of exotic dishes. The largest tree-born fruit is reckoned as a major export-oriented crop too.
Taking this into account, the State Horticulture Mission (SHM) is eying to set up two incubator-cum-resource centres in the state aimed at the value addition of jackfruit.
The concept evolved at the two-day workshop on value addition of jackfruit held in Thiruvananthapuram last week, which was attended by farmers, farmer groups and NGOs from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Says SHM director K Prathapan,
“The farmers have presented a number of projects regarding value addition of jackfruit being implemented in their states. And we have discussed them and identified four projects, which could be implemented here. One will be the incubator-cum-resource centre for developing value-added products from jackfruit, which will also handle off-season fruits and function round the year.
Others include processing of jackfruit seeds, ripe and unripe jackfruit bulbs, facilities for training and capacity building and accredited lab facility for quality evaluation.”
Given the medicinal importance of jackfruit seeds, it holds high export value if processed properly, SHM director said. “While ripe jackfruit could be used for making jam, squash, jelly and the like, unripe jackfruit bulbs are now an ingredient for preparing delicious dishes,” he said. As part of the plan, officials of the SHM and the Agriculture Department will visit the research centre at Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra.
Detailed proposals will be submitted to the state government within two weeks, the officials said. Funds for the project will be sourced from Small Farmers’ Agri Business Consortium and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
Meanwhile, agriculture experts have stressed for a more comprehensive project for jackfruit cultivation and harvesting instead of focusing only on value addition alone. Though a prominent homestead fruit, the state still lacks an organised marketing setup for jackfruit. Most of the produce are going to Tamil Nadu mainly for biscuit industry and raw consumption.
“As far as jackfruit is concerned, there is a strong demand in the market but the supply is less. Hence, promotion of cultivation and timely harvest of jack-fruits appears more important than value addition at present. Due to difficulties in harvesting, jack-fruits are often wasted especially those grown on the premises of offices or institutions.
While preparing the project, the government should also consider ways to ensure effective procurement of jackfruits using the service of State Horticultural Products Development Corporation Limited (Horticorp),” said an agriculture expert, who preferred not to be named.