Q: How did you discover the huge potential in jackfruit?
Five years back. I found that jackfruit was tremendously available in the Konkan region in Kerala but there was no value addition as 90 per cent of it was wasted. Compared to other fruits based products that already had a huge market, jackfruit was neglected by food processors. We started making jackfruit pickle, chakka varathy (jackfruit cooked with jaggery) and other products and soon felt the need to market these products like any other fruit based produce. So I decided to set up a factory in the industrial estate in Kerala and found a huge potential for the pulp as raw material for ice cream companies, bakeries and juice shops along with seed powder as a source of protein when mixed proportionately with flour. We also saw huge demand for tender jackfruit as it is used as a vegan meat for export purpose.
Q: What is the scope for jackfruit value addition in Goa?
Jackfruit is available in Goa in most of the backyards according to my observation. Goa is also a tourist hub and as many foreigners visit the state there is a huge scope for the growth of jackfruit based products here especially as a vegan meat. Even supplying these products to hotel chains can actually generate business worth crores if we manage to sell the concept and create a demand for them in Goa. Stakeholders have to take the initiative to come up with innovative recipes encouraging the use of jackfruit in various recipes. These can then be taught to chefs of five star restaurants who can replicate the dish.
Q: Where can Goan jackfruit processors start from?
Since there are too many varieties of the fruit and I would suggest starting with the tender jackfruit .And later at the riper stage they can go in for pulping to supply the pulp to ice cream factories and bakeries to be used as a flavoring agent. Similarly nobody in Goa has identified the meaty flavor of jackfruit as meat substitute for vegetarians being high in protein.
Q: What lessons can Goa learn from Kerala in terms of the growth of jackfruit based products?
Previously even in Kerala there was huge wastage of jackfruit but in the last there years there has been a tremendous growth and today it is a success story. Then why not Goa? In fact for Goa it is much easier compared to Kerala because of the connectivity. Goa being a small state the transportation and sales should not be a problem. And since tourists visit throughout the year there is a potential market within the state.
Q: What is the shelf life of these products?
The shelf life varies for each product. Even retort packaged products have a one year shelf life, while jackfruit halwa has a shelf life of one month. In Kerala we have many training centers for entrepreneurs so those interested in the business can contact them and get the required guidance. There are also many universities that conduct research on jackfruit. Entrepreneurs can approach researchers for assistance if they want to experiment with new products.
Q: What suggestion would you give cultivators looking to generate profitable revenue from jackfruit?
I would suggest that it is better to cultivate in a single variety as it is easier in processing and maintaining the taste of the product. There are also a number of off-season varieties available in the market that give produce from October to December, so if they cultivate an off –season variety they will get a good price for the produce as they will be able to sell it for a better price margin. Investment in a jackfruit plantation of approximately two to three acre is beneficial for large scale production. For those looking for small scale production 10-20 trees are also good enough as the off-season can fetch them a good price.
Q: Are plantations more economical compared to the trees grown the backyard?
The difference in random varieties grown in the backyard and a dedicated plantation is that in the backyard you can’t distinguish the variety available. So you cannot sell your produce easily but in case of a plantation of a single variety the sales are high. In a plantation the produce can be sold approximately at Rs 10 per kg. Each tree has a minimum of 20 fruits so if a cultivator has a two acre land with about 100 trees he can easily earn about Rs two lakhs in about a six months time.
Q: Processing jackfruit is a time and labor intensive process. What are your views on it?
There are some studies needed for mechanization because other fruits like mango and pineapple are already mechanized in terms of processing. It is difficult to find machinery for jackfruit because there is no unique size and texture. But I have used small customized mechanization myself for cutting and extracting the fruit pulp. But it is not 100 percent so we require labor to pre- process. In the soft variety there are machines so it is easy but the hard variety requires manpower to do the job.
Q: Has there been a growth in jackfruit production in Goa?
The growth in Goa is currently zero. The initial step is to start a processing centre and a dedicated team for marketing and processing. It is a new and healthy product so if someone is willing to venture into this market we are ready to help them.