Someone once, famously, said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
If there is anyone for whom this quote stands true, it is 74-year-old Siddappa who comes from Hirehalli, a small village in the Tumkur district of Karnataka.
35 years ago when he planted a jackfruit seed, little did he know that one day, a unique jackfruit variety would be named after him.
Known as ‘Siddu,’ the copper-coloured jackfruit shot to fame overnight in 2017 during the famous Hesaraghatta fair. The horticultural fair is for farmers and locals mostly to display varieties of jackfruits and mango.
Among the 175 varieties displayed, the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) took an interest in this particular variety of jackfruit. Its other distinct features include colour, size, taste and phytochemical properties.
Siddappa’s son, SS Paramesha, signed a Memorandum of Understanding after the prestigious institute nominated him as the ‘custodian of genetic diversity.’
As per the deal, the IIHR will give 75% proceeds of these special saplings to Paramesha. Each graft is sold at ₹150. Speaking to The Better India, Paramesha says,
As per the lab testing report, the jackfruit is rich in Vitamin C (6.48 gm per 100 gm) when compared to other varieties. It has a high percentage of carotenoids and flavonoids as well.
Paramesha and his family own a 25-acre plot of land where they grow crops. They also own a small nursery.
The overwhelming response was completely unexpected, he says. “Till 2017, we were distributing the jackfruits to our friends and relatives as a gift. We knew that the jackfruit in our farm was different from the rest but had very little idea about it precious value.”
The pyramid-shaped fruit is classified under small sized fruits (2-5 kilos), and each tree can yield up to 1,098 kilos. Fruit consumption is suitable for four-member family as each fruit contains 25-30 bulbs. The copper-coloured flakes are crispy and sweet, compared to the yellow and white coloured flakes of regular jackfruits.
Though the tree changed the fortunes of the family, it also led to a massive surge in the fruit’s demand, which brought in several challenges like its safety. Paramesha even installed CCTV cameras and fences to protect the tree from any human destruction.
The tremendous pressure on the fruit even resulted in affecting the health of the tree.
Every year the tree gave over 400 fruits, but this year it has reduced by half. To cater to the rising demand for seedlings we had to cut the tender shoots of branches that affected the yield, says Paramesha.
This year alone, the family has already received a booking order of 20,000 saplings and the overall demand has touched one lakh.
“The demand for this variety has touched one lakh, but we can only provide about 10,000 saplings this year,” said Dr Karunakaran, head of IIHR’s Tumakuru-based Central Horticultural Experimental Station (CHES) and the scientist who identified this unique tree to The Hindu.
If Paramesha can meet the demand, then he is expected to generate revenue up to a crore!
The demand has always been higher than supply since 2017, and this year from June to August my entire family will be engaged in grafting the seedlings, he says.
Currently, the family is not accepting any orders, and have stated that they will begin to do so from end-September.
If you wish to get in touch with Paramesha contact him at 9902794969. Please note that he only accepts calls from 9-10 pm.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)