People Annie Ryu from the U.S. is fascinated by the jackfruit and is doing her bit to promote it
Ajack burger? jack wafers? jack mousse? jack waffle? If American Annie Ryu has her way, 44 retail stores in her country will stock Kerala-grown, dried, ripe jackfruit snacks on their shelves. Soon, other processed forms of jackfruit will also be available in the western world.
Annie first tasted the jackfruit two years ago on a Bangalore roadside when a hawker thrust some ripe bits into her hand. She fell in love with them. Since then, Annie, a senior at Harvard University, has been working to get the jackfruit its due.
She founded Global Village Fruits, a company that works to bring the “jack community” together “to answer some questions that have never been answered, like its commercialisation.”
In Kerala, she works with Joseph Luckose, president, Group Rural Agriculture Marketing Association (GRAMA), an NGO in Edappady, and with chef Jose Varkey of the CGH group of hotels, who is involved in “the contemporary adaptation” of this fruit.
Annie works to bring together growers, processors and researchers to present this fruit-vegetable in a new light. Comparing it to potato and strawberry, she says they are popular thanks to concerted marketing efforts.
“Any fruit or vegetable has to be consciously promoted; its goodness exemplified,” says Annie, who has collected 300 jackfruit recipes.
“The jackfruit is under-researched. It is indigenous, a bio-reserve of the Western Ghats. But research is essential for its promotion,” says Annie, who points out that 75 per cent of the produce currently goes waste.
Joseph, who has been working on adding value to the jackfruit, says that this “neglected, orphaned crop will play an important role in feeding the world in the 21st Century.”
At the processing unit, Joseph has different packaged versions of the fruit — as chips, as seed flour used in kebabs and puddings, and in shredded form for gravies and stir-fry preparations.
Annie has met with experts such as Shyamala Reddy and Narayana Gowda of the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore — their team hosted the National Jackfruit Festival.
“I am building a market for jackfruit,” she says. She is also demanding a subsidy for farmers growing it. She also has plans to make wine using the fruit and start a Jackfruit Institute, on the lines of the Breadfruit Institute in Hawaii.
So, what is Annie’s favourite version of jackfruit? The jackfruit burger.
The jackfruit is under-researched. It is indigenous, a bio-reserve of the Western Ghats. But research is essential for its promotion. The best varieties have to be identified. I am focussing on the ripe dried jackfruit at the moment