THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Though jackfruit has been elevated as the state's official fruit, the fact is that a large quantity of it is wasted. Over 32 crore jackfruits are produced in Kerala every year, but 30 per cent of them get rotten for want of takers. However, the demand for it is bound to go up in the summer season. The government is planning to encourage planting of more jackfruit saplings and revive the jackfruit plantations. Last August, Agriculture Minister V. S. Sunil Kumar had organised a four-day international jackfruit festival at Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal, Wayanad, which was attended by delegates from Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The RARS has earned a revenue of Rs 10 lakh this fiscal year, compared to Rs 20,000 five years ago, by coming out with different varieties of jackfruits, more saplings and value-added products. Dr. P. Rajendran, associate director of research at RARS, told DC that jackfruit should be considered as the 'divine tree' instead of coconut which is called 'Kalpavriksha.'
"Jackfruit is an evergreen tree, and pepper grown on it will thrive and become disease-resistant due to the microbes present at the root zone of the tree. Every part of jackfruit has medicinal value and ayurveda practitioners use the bud leaf for headache and tooth ache," said Dr. Rajendran.
Under the aegis of Agricultural Research Station at Anakkayam, Malappuram, Dr. Rajendran and his team had developed 57 clones of jackfruit eight years ago which have now started yielding fruits. In the 255-acre campus at RARS, there are 10, 000 jackfruits. He feels that if the state agriculture department systematically utilises the jackfruit and its value- added products, the state can earn Rs 15, 000 crore per year compared to the present Rs 2,000 crore.