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Friday, September 21, 2012

Kairali Queen initiative - Jackfruit from Kerala to North East

This train runs through the States of Kerala, Tamilnadu,  Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra,  Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh , Haryana and New Delhi..  that is Kerala Express traversing 3035 km halting at 40 stations  with travelling time of - 50h 25m.   Sure, would be a test of patience for modern day youngsters.

The New Delhi bound Kerala Express that left Thiruvananthapuram Central on Wednesday (19th Sept 2012) was special, for it had one tonne of jackfruit as part of the Kairali Queen initiative launched by Railways to transport ethnic agricultural produce to the northern and distant cities. Divisional Railway Manager Rajesh Agrawal flagged off the train. The jackfruit was procured by the Jackfruit Promotion Council that is spearheading the popularisation of the fruit.                                          

Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family (Moraceae). Known in Tamil as Palapazham, its sweetness has found references even in Sangam literature. The trio of Mango, Jackfruit and Banana collectively known as ‘Mukkani’ are hailed to be excellent in taste having medicinal qualities too and are offered to Gods. Jackfruit is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of India.  They are found in abundance in Panruti, saw a lot of them near Mathur Palem near Thiruvattaru too.  They hit the market generally during end Summer around May to July.  

Cutting and opening the ripe fruit to take out the bulbous sweet part known as chulai is an art – the vendor on the street would do so easily, you will find it so difficult when you try at home, as it would be too sticky to handle.  

The DRM who flagged off the train,  said the move would be beneficial to the farmers, Railways, and non-resident Keralites residing in the north. As per an understanding reached between the council and the Railways, a fixed space in trains up to three tonnes would be provided to the council. The loading and marketing of the fruit will be managed by the council. The members of the Jack fruit promotion council were present on the occasion.

The movement of jackfruit comes close on the heels of the first exclusive goods train Kairali Black that transported bitumen from Ernakulam to Bhutan. Railways are gearing up to transport latex from Kerala to Delhi as part of a move to ensure quick and efficient transport of freight from the State.  The Hindu reports that  two-thirds of the time can be saved if freight is moved through the rail network and it will immensely benefit the economy of the State and the business community.  Compared to the 10 days needed by a truck to go from here to Delhi, an exclusive goods train can take the cargo to the national capital in five days.

Like any other fruit, Jackfruit also has many varieties and a higher % of the fruit falls in the category of ‘coarse’ known as ‘Koozhachakka’  in Kerala. It gets  thrown away and is regarded as low in stature and would not get served to guests.   Understand that jackfruit icecreams are popular in parts of USA.  You get chips made of jackfruit, especially in Kerala. 

The  Jackfruit Promotion Council (JPC) has been demanding for some time to Jackfruit tree as  ‘National Fruit Tree’, as an effective response to global warming and food security, and also to make legal provisions for the control of felling of jackfruit trees.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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