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Jumping jackfruit

Miguel Braganza: This story is a little different from the fairy tale of Jack and the beanstalk. This is reality of Jack and the Bean’s talk scripted by a journalist named Shree Padre, who is neither a priest as the name suggests, nor even a member of the ‘minority’ community.

It has four actors in the lead roles: Mohan Hodawadekar of Sindhusfurti that makes Jack modaks in Kudal for Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai, Maharashtra; S Priya Devi of ICAR-CCARI who has turned her attention from Kokum to Jack quality and processing in Goa; Shivanna of Ankura that makes caffeine-free Jaffee in the coffee heartland of Chickmagalur; and Subash Koroth who converts Jack into meat alternatives like ‘vegan chicken’ and burger ‘pattie’ among other things.

Four states across the ‘greater Konkan’ of the Yadavas and Hoysalas that Tensing Rodrigues writes about in the NT Panorama, and there are plenty of success stories. ‘Nothing succeeds like Success’ they say. With the third advanced workshop on value addition in Jack, the GCCI Agriculture Committee is set to spread the success across Goa.

A story or a film is never just about the heroes: there are actors in the supporting roles to add substance; and there are actors in the negative role (formerly known as ‘villains’) to make it interesting.

Prakash Sawant of Sagar Engineering Works in Kudal got funded by the National Agricultural Innovation Program to further develop the basic machinery for cutting, shredding, pulping, juicing and making aqueous extracts of various fruits in the Konkan from aonla and kokum to jack and mango.

Ajit Shirodkar, chairman of the Western Ghats Kokum Foundation, has devoted his attention to Jack; initially in addition to Kokum and now the whole hog for the final push. The Goa State Directorate of Agriculture and NABARD have played a major supporting role. The GCCI Secretariat, specially Ramakant Kamat and Bemvinda Barros, has to deal with the details on day-to-day basis.

Sometimes a thing appears impossible to do until someone actually does it. I still remember my days as a rookie agriculture officer in Bicholim in the summer of the Orwellian year, 1984. Ramesh G Joshi wanted to introduce cashew grafts, each of which was then costing ten times the value of a cashew seedling, into a Central Sector Scheme that involved distributing 200 seedlings per hectare of land.

There were no takers till he found someone crazy enough to try marketing that idea of 100 seedlings and 10 grafts instead of 200 seedlings. I found fifty farmers willing to indulge a young officer and accept that deal, foolish though it may have seemed to them. The next year, the cashew grafts flowered and bore fruit.

The rest is history. My brother-in-law Nelson Figueiredo (now director of Agriculture) and I did mushroom demonstrations in 1985 and helped set up production units for spawn, first at Lulu’s Farm in Anjuna and then in the department at Ela in 1996.

Today, Goa is a mushroom production hub. The idea of a College of Agriculture was rejected by experts in 1986. Cultivation of orchids, anthuriums, gladioli and gerberas in Goa seemed crazy in 1993, but is happening commercially now. It will be no different with Jack fruit and seeds processing.

The Naysayers will always be there. All good ideas appear to be crazy at the start. Each idea needs a person or group crazy enough to make it succeed. [NT]

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