Jackfruit is indigenous and superabundant in southern India, but 75% of it simply goes to waste. These millions of tons of jackfruit lost each year amount to tremendous lost opportunity for poverty alleviation, for women’s economic empowerment, and for food security and nutrition.
One in three of the world’s poorest people are living in India. Almost one third of India’s population lives below the poverty line, and 77% of the Indian poor live in rural areas. Sixty to seventy percent of persons working in agriculture are women. Forty-two percent of children are malnourished.
Seventy-five percent of India’s jackfruit is simply wasted largely because farmers lack knowledge of product demand, high-quality processing techniques, and effective marketing. Farmers lose profits by selling to exploitative brokers with market connections. Farmers also typically lack processing infrastructure, which would greatly reduce the need for refrigerated supply chains and safe storage, which are also lacking. Processing can extend produce’s shelf-life by several months or longer, but currently only 2-3% of agricultural produce in Karnataka, a prime jackfruit-growing region, is processed.
More broadly, jackfruit is understudied on a global scale. There are virtually no jackfruit-specific processing technologies available, and varietal selection for the open pollination crop has progressed minimally. Lack of research on the jackfruit markedly impedes its commercialization.