For most Malayalis, summer means the season of mangoes and jackfruits. Their best memories of the season are often intertwined with the sweetness of ripe mangoes and the heavenly aroma of ripe jackfruits.
However, a good chunk of the jackfruits produced in the State goes waste nowadays.
It is in this background that concerted efforts have been started at the grassroots level to promote the taste and aroma of Kerala's own jackfruit.
‘The Jackfruit Festival,' a three-day event organised by the Kottappuram Integrated Development Society (KIDS) at Kodungalloor as part of its food security programme, is an effort in this direction.
The event that took off to a start at the KIDS resource centre at Poyya, near North Paravur, on Monday is aimed at tapping the commercial potential of the fruit, better known for its prickly appearance, size, weight and taste.
Says Sunny George, consultant scientist, KIDS: “the focus is on the multi-functional resource value of the fruit and to elevate its status from a seasonal produce to a perennial source of income generation.'' For him, jackfruit is an answer to the food security problems while its tree offers high-value timber.
The fruit has high nutritional value and a ripe jackfruit also boasts income generation possibilities through value-addition.
As part of developing the export potential of jackfruit, the institution, in association with Wayanad-based organisation, Unarvu, has launched a training programme in preparing a wide variety of innovative jackfruit dishes — sip-up, sweets, jam, jelly, pappad, pickles and so on.
In addition, demonstrations were also held on how time-tested food items such as payasam and chips are prepared from the fruit.
“Efforts are on to form a cluster of self-help groups and establish a supply-chain of jackfruit food products,” says Rev. Johnson Pangath, Director, KIDS.
According to him, the event is an attempt to provide the public with an opportunity to get to know better the tropical fruit, which is commonly available in the region.
By giving new insights into jackfruit cultivation, the event has also been successful in attracting participation from both local residents as well as major exporters.
An exhibition of various exotic jackfruit varieties, jackfruit quizzes and cultural programmes are part of the event.