The Meghalaya government has formulated an exclusive policy to explore the potential of the neglected poor man’s fruit — the jackfruit.

The draft policy of the ‘Mission Jackfruit’ aims to create livelihood opportunities for rural and urban people by exploring the potential of the fruit, which is going waste now.

Apart from addressing food security and nutritional issues, the five-year mission plan is aimed at creating a value chain for jackfruit products and job opportunities for many. This mission hopes to improve the lives of around 82,000 farmers in the State.

Generating jobs

KN Kumar, Agricultural Production Commissioner of Meghalaya, and Additional Chief Secretary to the Governor of Meghalaya, told BusinessLine that Meghalaya could be the first State to plan an exclusive mission document for jackfruit.

Asked what made Meghalaya to think of a mission document , he said jackfruit grows in the wild in Meghalaya, especially in the Garo Hills region. Inspite of this, nearly 75 per cent of the production is wasted. The mission intends to generate economic activity and create employment opportunities around jackfruit.

With nearly a million trees in the State, ‘Mission Jackfruit’ wants to identify local varieties, conduct a germplasm survey, and to initiate steps for technology sourcing and transfer. It also wants promote jackfruit cultivation on 2,000 hectares of catchment areas.

Local varieties

The mission has set a target of reaching out and helping more than 82,000 farmers over the next five years. It wants to promote the formation of jackfruit collection, aggregation, and agro-processing clusters and farmer producer organisations. It will also focus on demand-driven research and development for product and processes; and design and development of equipment, improved storage and shelf-life facilities, packaging, etc.

It also aims at establishing techno-incubation centres at Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills in the State to provide training, technical assistance and incubation to entrepreneurs and to act as a common processing facility for jackfruits. The mission envisages an outlay of around ₹79.18 crore, with assistance from both State and Central governments, over a period of five years.

Kumar said that the final policy document on ‘Mission Jackfruit’ will be launched on August 14 as an Independence Day gift for the people of Meghalaya.

Shree Padre, a progressive farmer from northern Kerala, who has been creating awareness on the potential of jackfruit for more than a decade now, said that no other States has come out with a mission document for jackfruit till now.