Jackfruit, the fruit which is native to South India, is grown in tropical regions around the world but holds a special place in the hearts of Indians.
While the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have professed their love for the Jackfruit by declaring it as the official ‘state fruit’, Karnakata is not far behind—one can find at least one tree in almost every single street.
Unlike other trees which require intensive nurturing and care, the jackfruit tree hardly requires any work. It grows on its own without too much of a fuss and produces fruits throughout the year.
Despite this, in comparison to mangoes and oranges, this tree-borne fruit is definitely an underdog. It remains largely neglected by farmers as a prospective crop and often goes to waste.
However, one farmer producer organisation (FPO) based in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka is not only bringing the unassuming fruit back to the mainstream in its natural form but is also reviving it by using it to produce value-added products.
Located in the town of Vitla, the Pingara Horticulture Farmers’ Producer Company Ltd collects raw jackfruits from about 1,000 farmers within a 15 km radius of the town and has been manufacturing jackfruit-based products like happala (papad) and finger chips.
While the FPO picks the ‘halasina kayi’ from the doorsteps of farmers at ₹2 per kg, the farmers can earn ₹4 per kg if they deliver the produce straight to the company’s manufacturing unit in Kallakatta.
Each of these farmers is engaged in areca nut cultivation, and have jackfruit trees growing naturally across their plantations. Besides providing the company with the produce, they have also invested ₹1,000 each as their share capital in the company.
Speaking to BusinessLine, K Ramkishor, who is the President of Pingara Horticulture, mentioned that the farmers were inspired by the efforts of Shree Padre, a Kerala farmer, who has been at the forefront for spreading awareness about the potential of jackfruits for over a decade now.
“The FPO prepares around 1,000 pieces of papad and 5 kg of chips a day. It produces around 50 kg of jackfruit halwa in a week,” he added.
Although it was established in 2016, the FPO has started producing and manufacturing jackfruit-based products only recently.
It is supported by the state Horticulture department, which provides a 90 percent subsidy on the cost of equipment to generate these products.
The venture employs about 20 workers, mostly women, providing them with a stable source of employment throughout the year, as these jackfruit-based products are manufactured even during the off-season period.
Besides papads and chips, the firm also has other products like ready-to-cook payasam, ‘maambala’ (dried fruit pulp), and halwa—and all of them are prepared from jackfruits!
“We have plans to make pulp, which is in great demand with ice cream manufacturers,” Ramkishor told The Hindu. Even a chutney powder made out of jackfruit seeds that can be consumed with idli and dosa is in its experimentation phase.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)