Jackfruit is rich in nutrients so it is recognised as the king of quality in fruits. The fruit contains a high amount of protein, sugar and different vitamins, which are special requirement of the human body. For every 100 grams of ripe jackfruit 1.6 grams, raw jackfruit 2.08 grams and jackfruit seeds 6.8 grams of protein is observed.
Raw jackfruit is as effective in relieving disease as it is in boosting the body's immune system. It also assists against cancer and contains sufficient amount of minerals, which benefit in bone formation and bone reinforcement and in controlling the amount of sugar in human blood.The fruit includes significant antioxidants that protect our body from destructive free radicals. The phytonutrients present in jackfruit are able to prevent ulcers, high blood pressure and aging. This fruit contains iron, which eliminates anemia and constipation as it is sticky and fibrous.
Vitamin C exists in jackfruit, which enhances immunity as well as hardens the gums. Vitamin C is not produced in the human body naturally. According to nutritionists, jackfruit provides prerequisite energy for our body. In addition, many food and nutrition scientists suggest and recommend consuming jackfruit for prolonging beautification of the face.
Jackfruit is grown in almost all areas of the country. Among the regions, Gazipur, Mymensingh, Narsingdi, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Jashore, Khulna, Sunamganj, Hill Tracts produce a significant amount of high quality jackfruit. It is true that this is nearly similar each year and the prices are so low that jackfruit growers and entrepreneurs are noticed to sale the produce with a frustrated mind or are bound to force sale during that time. As per the research report, the amount of postharvest loss is about 25-45 per cent or sometimes more than that figure every year in the country.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), every year about 500 crore is lost because of inappropriate processing technology of jackfruit. It is known during the survey that many farmers feel discouraged as the producers and entrepreneurs do not get fair price for jackfruit. It is remarkable that because of being unable to sale the fruit on time and not getting a fair price, many are cutting down jackfruit trees or orchards and planning to grow other crops, especially high value crops replacing the jackfruit tree.
In our country, most people are habituated to consume ripe jackfruit. Sharing information with farmers, traders and aratdar’s of Jaina Bazar and Mauna in Sreepur Upazilla of Gazipur district we come to know that when the ripening of jackfruit starts, at the same time huge number of jackfruits ripe together, as the fruits are mostly consumed ripe. Consequently, 30 - 40 per cent of the fruit fall naturally from the trees, which is not appropriate for human consumption. Many people opine that at times even cows or animals do not want jackfruit as feed. However, if emphasis is given to commercialise the fruit and motivate people to process different value added food items from it, it is possible to get various food items prepared by jackfruit on the table all year round.
In many countries, agro-processing industries are producing different jackfruit products by using technologies developed by the researchers, which are available in the market the entire year to the stakeholders. Farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers are all being benefited from it. In many countries of the globe, there is a strong link between farmers, entrepreneurs, and especially research institutes, where stakeholders or agro-processing industry invest money to develop technology. It is sad that the agro-processors here are not interested to invest any money on technology innovation or there is no mandatory provision or policy. Sometimes it is known that food-processing industry spend huge money to purchase technology with equipment directly from abroad. Even they invite experts from foreign country. As the country's money is invested abroad, often it is not possible to use the knowledge and experience of our country's experts properly.Postharvest Technology Division of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Gazipur and NewVision Solutions Limited, Dhaka have jointly undertaken a project for diversified use of jackfruit to reduce waste. The main objective of the project is to minimise the loss by post-harvest management, processing and marketing of jackfruit. The project aims to develop sustainable marketing models for producers in four division (Dhaka, Mymensingh, Rajshahi and Chattogram) of the country in seven major growing areas through postharvest management, evaluating customer demand, value addition (fresh and processed product) through processing technologies and market linkage development among growers, processors, entrepreneurs, etc. It will also work on formulating a strategic marketing plan for promoting and familiarising jackfruit.
The team leader stated that proper use of jackfruit from tender or green will reduce waste to a great extent through diversified utilisation of jackfruit with products such as chips, vegetable meat, fresh-cut, frozen, osmotic dehydrated product, ready-to-cook (RTC), jackfruit jam, pickles and various high quality and delicious food items will be prepared smoothly as we see in Thailand or Vietnam. Different famers and entrepreneur groups will be formed and hands on training will be provided to prepare fresh and processed food items and various initiatives will be taken to popularise jackfruit products through various promotional activities and campaign.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world produces about 3.7 million tons of jackfruit annually, most of which is produced in India (1.6 million tons), followed by Bangladesh (1 million tons). Indonesia and Thailand are the 3rd and 4th largest producers. Many East Asian countries, including China, Japan and Malaysia, are importing jackfruits from different countries. To retain the production continuing, the fruit may be utilised for processing. In this case, there is an opportunity to export our jackfruit through selection of high quality with precise varieties and selection of proper maturity, which will encourage and motivate the farmers and entrepreneurs. In an effort to intensify the popularity and proper use of jackfruit, the Horticultural Research Center of BARI has developed three jackfruit varieties (BARI Kathal-1, BARI Kathal-2 & BARI Kathal-3) which will be available to consumers throughout the year.
Among the many foods from jackfruit, jackfruit seed is a very nutritious food, which can be easily used to make various food items including bhorta, fried products, cakes, puddings. Expatriates value this seed very much. In many countries of the world including America, Europe, Canada, Australia, in the super-shops of South Asia, jackfruit seeds are observed being sold as frozen at 800-1000 taka per kg. In our neighbouring countries of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, Indonesia, various foods made of jackfruit, especially chips, osmotic dried products, pickles, jams and other food products are widely found.
Raw jackfruit is very popular in neighbouring Kerala, India. There is a tradition of eating 100 types of food items prepared with raw jackfruit in different ingredients including 'Vegetable Meat'. Diversified use of jackfruit will undoubtedly play a major role to attain the food and nutritional security of the country that will also assist in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. Therefore, jackfruit should be consumed as a vegetable first, which has been noticed as a 'vegetable meat' from 55 to 65 days of immature jackfruit the study conducted by BARI. It can be easily preserved in deep freezer for 6 – 7 months with antimicrobial and post-harvest treatment.
Very few fresh jackfruits are exported abroad and most of its customers are expatriate Bangladeshi people. As per the DAE report, the export was 393 tons in 2016-17 and 600 tons until June 2016-17. Jackfruit is being exported to European Union, England, America and Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), smart packaging technology, proper maturity selection, proper variety for processing industry, application of appropriate processing technology including packinghouse facilities will create enormous opportunities for national fruit jackfruit to increase its consumption across the country and expand export that will ensure fair price to the farmers, which will also assist in increasing the production of jackfruit. Overall, it will accelerate the country's economy with food and nutritional security provisions.
The writer is a Food Technologist and
Senior Scientific Officer, Postharvest
Technology Division, Bangladesh
Agricultural Research Institute, Gazipur