Jackfruit (Artocarpusheterophylla) is an abundantly available NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Product) in Sirsi, Karnataka. Jackfruit treesare endemic to the Western Ghats of India; their fruit is used to make pappad and chips for household consumption. The fruit is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium and Iron.
Due to a lack of awareness about the market opportunities forJackfruit, surplus fruits are not utilized by the locals as an additional means of earning money.Hence over the years, a potentially economically valuable NTFP has been overlooked by the community. The fruiting season, which stretches from January to June, can provide an additional income generation opportunity for the locals through proper NTFP collection and market tie-ups.
Under the Innovations in Ecosystem Management and Conservation (IEMaC) Project, a Self Help Group (SHG) called VanashriSahyadriSHG- comprising all the households of KaremaneVillage in Sirsi- was formed for the aggregation and marketing of Jackfruits. A local market at the SirsiTaluk was identified, which is 25 km away from the village.
With the help of experienced Jackfruit collectors, 80 Jackfruits (200 kg) were collected and traded in the market ata rate of Rs. 650/quintal. The fruits were packed in plastic bags and transported to Sirsi, from where they weresent to markets in Bangalore, Karnataka and Kochi, Kerala for sale.
The market linkage proved to be very successful in bringing the village community together as a collective. The SHG members realised the economic viability of Jackfruit trade to boost their income during the summer;theyhave affirmed that they will collect Jackfruitson a much larger scalenext season. The villagers havealso shown interest in manufacturingpappads, chips, jam and jelly from this previously ignored NTFP.
It is hoped that this new found utility of Jackfruit will help to popularize the trade of this indigenous NTFP and strengthen the economic livelihoods of several rural households.