Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

Jackfruit has great potential: FAO

A new project will support small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs to benefit from the country's national fruit.

Nutritious jackfruit is one of the most important and widely grown fruits in the country but its potential has been largely unexploited.

The project, which will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is dedicated to promoting the production and marketing of jackfruit. 

An inception workshop on jackfruit project was held at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) in Dhaka on Tuesday, a FAO press release said.

FAO Representative in Bangladesh Robert D Simpson said: "Jackfruit has great potential, as recognized by the Government and FAO, and this project is about exploiting that potential. Bangladesh can undoubtedly gain a significant share of the international market for a variety of jackfruit-processed products that are in high demand globally."

In terms of annual production, jackfruit is the second largest producing fruit in the country after mango, accounting for more than one-fifth of total fruit production. It contributes significantly to the nutrition of the people of Bangladesh as a source of vitamins, minerals, and calories. 

Despite these nutritional benefits and largely untapped export potential, jackfruit has received little attention for value addition in the country. 

Only 12 plant species account for 75 percent of global food supply. Therefore, it is crucial to make use of underutilized resources, particularly Special Agricultural Products (SAPs) - such as jackfruit - to improve food security, nutrition, and livelihoods on a large scale.

The government of Bangladesh selected jackfruit under FAO's 'One Country One Priority Product" (OCOP) initiative. Eighty countries from five FAO regions were designated as potential project countries, with the goal of promoting 50 SAPs.

Bangladesh was selected as one of the first five demonstration countries, along with Egypt, Malawi, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uzbekistan.

The project, called 'Innovative Approaches for Better Plant Production', will support countries to implement the OCOP initiative by promoting innovative approaches for better crop production and SAPs marketing.

The project will strengthen food security, improve daily balanced diets, and increase the incomes of smallholders and family farmers in Bangladesh who grow jackfruit. 

Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akter was present at today's event as the chief guest. Director-General of Department of Agricultural Extension Imrul Mohsin was present, among others.