Jackfruit, Kerala’s Mega Food

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) growing in Kerala, India. Photograph: Olaf Krüger/Corbis

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) growing in Kerala, India. Photograph: Olaf Krüger/Corbis

Based in the epicenter of jackfruit habitat, we did not need to know this news (thanks, Hindu) to enjoy this season when these giants come down from the trees, but it sweetens the taste just a bit to know how much more important they may become:

It’s big and bumpy with a gooey interior and a powerful smell of decay – but it could help keep millions of people from hunger.

Researchers say jackfruit – a large ungainly fruit grown across south and south-east Asia – could be a replacement for wheat, corn and other staple crops under threat from climate change.

The World Bank and United Nations warned recently that rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall had already reduced yields of wheat and corn, and could lead to food wars within the decade.

Now researchers say jackfruit could help provide the solution.

Jackfruit is the largest known treeborne fruit. Even a small jackfruit weighs in at 10-15lbs (5-7kg), and farmers have recorded specimens of more than 100lbs (45kg).

“It’s a miracle. It can provide so many nutrients and calories – everything,” said Shyamala Reddy, a biotechnology researcher at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore, India. “If you just eat 10 or 12 bulbs of this fruit, you don’t need food for another half a day.”

But jackfruit, despite its huge potential, remains underexploited as a food crop in India, where it originated.

That is beginning to change, however, with a growing number of researchers looking for alternatives.

Reddy’s university will host an international conference on jackfruit in May. She said the Indian government had launched a number of new initiatives to promote the crop by expanding its use as a canned vegetable and as a processed food.

The effort coincides with a global push to expand food production, especially in developing countries which are expected to face growing challenges to feed their people in the coming decades.

Jackfruit can fill the gap on a number of counts, said Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, which works on sustainable agriculture.

“It is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought-resistant,” she said. “It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.”

The fruit is rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, said Reddy, making it more nutritious than current starchy staples…

Read the whole article here.

One thought on “Jackfruit, Kerala’s Mega Food

  1. Pingback: Jack Fruit, Again | Raxa Collective

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