The Meghalaya government, which is keen on marketing jackfruit available in plenty in the state, has assigned a hotel management institute here to popularise it, a government official said.
Popularising the fruit will also create livelihood opportunities for jackfruit growers in rural and urban areas, the official said.
Meghalaya is the second state after Tripura in the North East region to have taken the initiative to explore the potential of the largest tree-borne fruit seriously, according to Additional Chief Secretary K N Kumar.
The government-aided Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) recently displayed their products at the jackfruit festival here and all their food items were liked by visitors and state government representatives.
"The IHM is the first and only institute of repute to try out over 100 recipes using jackfruits," its director Vijay Kumar told PTI.
He said the institute is guided by the state government, which intends to market the fruit.
At the jackfruit festival held recently, the IHM team displayed and sold various products made of jackfruit, such as cupcakes, pastries, chips, juice, wines, biscuits, jackfruit pickles, curry and other culinary items.
According to Kumar, the jackfruit biryani was adjudged the best and the item can even make up for chicken.
He hoped the item is accepted in the food outlets in the state. The tourism department is in contact with leading hotels in the state and has floated the idea of serving jackfruit dishes by them and other food outlets, an officer said.
"This way the demand of the fruit, which generally is a pig feed, will go up," she said. Often ignored for its bulkiness and strong aroma, the jackfruit has been declared an important fruit in the state and the government has come up with a policy document for a five year intensive mission with an aim to generate employment opportunities for nearly over 80,000 farmers.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had launched the draft policy for the mission and the Rs 79 crore mission is likely to be launched before Independence Day this year.
Kumar said that the state loses about Rs 500 crore a year due to underutilisation of the "low input and low cost fruit".
He said that roughly 75 per cent of the produce is wasted resulting in a vast economic waste and hoped that due to the mission mode intervention, the value addition of the fruit's products will cut down the waste vastly.
Kumar, under whose supervision the mission has been launched, said if the fruit is promoted the vegan market would specially be attracted as it is grown organically and in a
natural way in the state.
The market is increasing by about 600 per cent in the US, 350 per cent in the UK in the past decade and about 17 per cent annually in China, he said.
The market for jackfruits is increasing by about 17 per cent and 600 per cent annually in China and the US respectively, he said. It had risen to 350 per cent in the UK in the past decade, he said.
There are at least one million jackfruit trees in the state spread across the Garo Hills and the border areas of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills region in the state, Kumar said adding the Centre would conduct a diversity study on the fruit.
Governor Ganga Prasad had personally sought the setting up of a national research centre for jack fruit at Tura during his meeting with the union agriculture minister earlier this year, the additional chief secretary said.