The Goan people’s Sao Joao celebrations, which began on June 23, 2022, ended on Sunday, while the GCCI held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday. Both these events have a link to the humble bunch of fruits, packed aseptically by Mother Nature.
Jackfruit milkshake was served at the 2019 AGM to the then brand new Chief Minister, Dr Pramod Sawant, and to IT Minister, Rohan Khaunte, who is back in the cabinet with an additional portfolio of Tourism. Jackfruit is a part of Goan culture and tradition. If one looks prosperous and well-rounded, it is not rare to hear the expression “Sarko ponnos kaso zala” (a Konkani expression meaning that one has ‘become huge like a jackfruit’). As a child, I could eat a full jackfruit at one sitting! Today, my body shape is like that of a prosperous ponnos, and I cannot get past a quarter of the fruit.
PROMOTING THE JACKFRUIT
The jackfruit is easy to share. One does not even need a knife to cut open a rosall jackfruit, which is simply called ponnos in South Goa, and chakka beyond the border. The kapo is known as borkoi, possibly a corruption of the Malayalam word varka for the harder chakka that the Portuguese promptly converted to Jaca and the English to ‘Jackfruit’.
The entire west coast and Western Ghats are home of the jackfruit. It is available in plenty during this season and is the traditional gift for the Sao Joao revellers, who need to jump in the well to retrieve the bottle of feni if they are spiritually inclined.
After almost a decade of promotion at the annual ‘Konkan Fruit Fest,’ since 2011, and four years (2015-19) of workshops, training courses, competitions and exhibitions through the GCCI, the day of the Jackfruit has arrived.
Goa has chosen the jackfruit for development in North Goa under the “One District, One Product” (ODOP) program under the Government of India PM-FME program. A multi-fruit processing unit has been set up in Pale-Velguem area, of Bicholim taluka, and the processing of jackfruit into pulp, chips and other products has begun in earnest under the brand name of Govan.
Sunetra Talaulikar of KVK-North Goa, is our master trainer in jackfruit processing. In 2019, her trainee, Liza Pinheiro and her Rural Agricultural Work Experience Program (RAWEP) team demonstrated how to cook jackfruit into vegetable, sweets and chips at the annual Ponnsamchem Fest, at Socorro.
There are thirty-seven students doing RAWEP across Goa right now, who can do likewise in the allotted villages. Other than the empowered alumni, the Rural Agricultural Work Experience Program has been the greatest benefit of the agriculture college in Goa
A VERSATILE FRUIT
The jackfruit tree can survive drought and high temperatures. Its leaves are fodder for cattle and goats, which in turn give us milk, meat and manure. Its wood is good timber. ‘Vegan chicken’ is what jackfruit is known in many parts of the world, including its native land, India.
One can also make caffeine-free jaffee (jackfruit coffee) from the seeds, like Shivanna does in Chickmagalur.
Sairaj Dhond has marketed branded jackfruit in Goa, and so have Shridhar Ogale, Mohan Hodawadekar, Prakash Sawant and others with their successful multi-fruit processing units in Sindhudurg district.
The ‘Festival of Plants & Flowers’ at SFX School complex, Siolim, has empowered students of different schools with skills in home-scale jackfruit processing. Sunetra has published brochures and booklets with her recipes. They are available free of cost at the ICAR library, in Old Goa. Don’t forget to try them!
The author is the former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan