Farmers' organisations under the Kanjirappuzha Farm Club here have urged the Union government to set up a jackfruit mission for the promotion of jackfruit tree cultivation and marketing its food products in the country.

They have sent a letter through the State MPs to Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas and are awaiting a response.

Farm club president James P. Mathew, who has developed many products from jackfruit, said the mission would supplement the efforts of the government in ensuring food security. Jackfruit was a nutritious food and could be transformed into various value-added products, he said.

Mr. James said laboratory tests of jackfruit had found that it contained 3.65 per cent lauric acid (dodecanoic acid), a saturated fatty acid that has antimicrobial properties. Lauric acid was also found in human milk (6.2 per cent of total fat), cow's milk (2.9 per cent) and goat's milk (3.1 per cent). It was a white, powdery solid with a faint odour of bay oil or soap. It was inexpensive, had a long shelf-life, and was non-toxic and safe to handle. Thus, it was often used in laboratory investigations of freezing-point depression.

Lauric acid was a solid at room temperature but melted easily in boiling water, so liquid lauric acid could be treated with various solutes and used to determine their molecular masses.

In vitro experiments had suggested that some fatty acids, including lauric acid, could be a useful component in a treatment for acne, but no clinical trials had yet been conducted to evaluate this potential benefit in humans (Lide, D.R. ed. (2005), CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics).

A test conducted by the Food Testing Laboratory, Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu (January 28, 2010), had found that 3.65 per cent dodecanoic acid was found in jackfruit. So, it had high medicinal value too, Mr. James said.

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Kerala Agricultural University, in its recommendation on value-addition in jackfruit dated February 11, 2010, said, “It is one of the most underutilised fruits of tropics and abundantly grown in Kerala. The fruit is relatively cheap and plentiful during summer season. But the major portion of the fruit is left unprocessed, resulting in wastage. From the tender stage onwards, it can be utilised for different value-added products like dehydrated jackfruit products, whereas the ripened fruit can be used for a wide variety of products like jam, jelly, preserves, candy bars, beverages, wine etc. Its seed and the rind is usually discarded, which can also be converted to products of high commercial value. Suitable technologies have been developed at Kerala Agricultural University and in other technical institutes for the wholesome processing of jackfruit.”

Shaji James, programme coordinator at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra here, said that concerted efforts in promoting the production and use of value-added jackfruit products would be beneficial to the farmers.

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