Bokaro Jackfruit

Jackfruit like the coconut, banana, banyan, fig, peepul and mango is placed in the elite list of kalpa vriksha (wonder trees) of India. This deva phal (divine fruit or fruit of the heavens) forms an integral part in the local cuisine, festivals, religious celebrations and ecosystem.

 

India is the world’s largest producer of jackfruit with an annual average production of 1.4 million tonnes with Jharkhand sitting in the eighth position in terms of total annual production. The native jackfruit grown in Jharkhand and in Bokaro to be specific is renowned for its sweetness, tenderness and size.

 

The mixture of red lateritic soil and fine loam soils, hot summers with cool winters and average annual rainfall of around 1000 mm and relatively flat land is conducive for the intercropping of jackfruit with maize, pigeon pea, pulses, groundnut, niger and chilli in the kharif and with linseed, sunflower, vegetables and mustard in the rabi season.

 

Jackfruit is now being touted as an excellent alternative to meat and is in great demand in western countries that are now shifting to plant-based diet. Indian jackfruit is packed with vitamins and minerals, rich in antioxidants and high on protein and fibre.

 

Every part of the jackfruit tree is used by farmers, for example, leaves for animal fodder, bark for leather, timber for furniture, musical instruments, masts, oars and construction, roots for water conservation and latex for preparing chewing gum, glue and caulk. A yellow dye known as morin produced from the wood is used to dye wool, cotton and silk.

 

The ripe fruit and seeds are used to prepare value-added products like juice, jelly, chutney, custard, jams, sweets, chips, noodles, papad and others. Ready to cook tender jackfruit, dehydrated unripe jackfruit chips, jackfruit seed flour, pickles, chunks canned in brine, preserved candy, dried seeds, chocolate made out of its seeds and others are now making their way into the market as part of the “Jackfruit Initiative” launched by the central government. Besides these, jackfruit is also used as a flavouring agent in ice cream and beverages and its seeds are often added to local delicacies and curries to give it an extra crunch.

 

Indian jackfruit has tremendous potential to capture the global health food sector, for its healing, medicinal and nutritional properties are immense. With more and more people opting for tender or raw jackfruit as a substitute for meat, Indian jackfruit looks poised to take over a sizeable portion of the plant-based food sector in the global market.

 

Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

 

* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)

 

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