The Centrally sponsored scheme of Horticulture Missions in States providing 55 per cent subsidy for setting up Jack fruit processing units for value addition will once again bring back Jackfruit as an important food product of the people in the State.
Apart from its high value timber this largest fruit of the world was once an important part of the food habit of Malayalees.
Apart from eating the ripe fruit as such, both the raw and ripe flesh was used for making chips, curries and other delicacies.
But the modern food habits relegated Jackfruit to an unimportant position now.
Though the fruit is cheap and plentiful during summer season, it is underutilized. It generally goes unprocessed and wasted.
The persistent demand of Jackfruit cultivators led by James P. Mathew, President, Kanjirappuzha Farm Club at Irumbakachola in Mannarkkad taluk to the Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas has resulted in the Ministry directing all Sate Horticulture Missions to implement schemes to develop Jackfruit.
National Horticulture Mission is giving credit-cum-subsidy to the tune of 55 per cent in hilly and backward regions and 40 per cent in the other areas. A unit will get a grant up to Rs.14 lakh, Mr. James said.
He said that Kerala Horticulture Mission is also ready to implement the scheme. This will help the all round development of this underutilized fruit of topic in the State.
The farmers are not having the modern technology to preserve this important food item with high medicinal value.
From the tender stage onwards, it can be converted as value added products like dehydrated jack fruit (Idichakka) where as the ripened fruit can be used for a wide variety of jam, jelly, candy bars, beverages, wine etc.
Though some farmers and their organizations have come forward to protect and expand Jackfruit tree cultivation and putting its fruit to good use due to lack of financial assistance and required technology they could not succeed.
But now both the Central and State Horticulture Missions have come forward to provide subsidy and suitable technology for the preservation and processing of Jackfruit it will get a big boost for developing this valuable food product.
It is a nutritious food and can be transformed into various value added products, he said.
‘Jack fruit is as good as mother’s milk’:
Mr. James said that the laboratory tests of Jack fruit found that it contains 3.65 per cent Lauric acid (dodecanoic acid), a saturated fatty acid that has antimicrobial properties.
Lauric acid is 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).
Thus Jackfruit has its medicinal value too and it could be developed as a major food item in the State using the modern technology, he said.