Why is Jackfruit the Official Fruit of Kerala?

For a long time, chakka aka Jackfruit being called “the official fruit of Kerala” was just another household joke. It wasn’t until the 21st of March, 2018 that this jumbo-sized fruit finally got accredited as the official fruit of Kerala. But why (imitating Mukesh) Jackfruit and nothing else? Don’t worry, let me unravel the mystery for you.

Did Jackfruit get its name because it is the ‘ Jack of all fruits’  ? (Pun alert!)

Well, not really!

The name originated from our very own language, Malayalam. The Portuguese, mesmerized by the magic fruit with an exotic flavor, perceived the name ‘chakka’ as ‘jaca’ and thus, the name Jackfruit came into existence. According to the statistics, Jackfruit is grown across 91,982 hectares where 281 million tones of the fruit are produced every season. One can easily spot a Jackfruit tree just by its peculiar fruity smell that fills up the air. The potential of this exotic fruit is sadly not harnessed properly. Spoilt and decayed Jackfruit lying beneath the tree is a regular scene in Kerala. But, things are changing slowly. And, we’ve got to thank the pandemic for it. Read on!

One can’t stop talking about the varieties of dishes you can make with Jackfruit. The overlapping of Jackfruit season with the pandemic resulted in the extensive and creative use of the fruit. We learned to appreciate our natural resources and to make the best out of it. From our basic ‘chakka thoran’ to Jackfruit momos and shawarmas, we put our culinary skills to test during the quarantine. 

Let’s talk about the whole tree ( plavu) now. I would be put in a bad position if you ask me to name one thing that is not useful about this tree. Even the timber is in high demand and is exported. The capital that is needed for its cultivation is very small as it doesn’t require any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This, in turn, provides a great organic value for the fruit. Compared to many other trees, the Jackfruit tree helps in regulating greenhouse gases.

Also Read: Has ‘BEEF ULARTHIYATHU’ Become the National Dish of Kerala?

V.S Sunil Kumar, the state Agricultural Minister said that the core objective of the government was to give a boost to the production and sale of Jackfruit and its value-added products. Branding the fruit would foster markets across the country and abroad, thereby highlighting its organic and nutritious qualities. 

We all are blessed with things that are useful to us, but somewhere in this mechanized world, we go looking for treasures in the distant land, when the treasure is right where we live. Like how Santiago, the protagonist of Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist, goes in search of his treasure finally realizing that the treasure was right below his abode.

So the next time when somebody says that you look like a ‘chakka’, say a thank you and walk-in sass with your shades on.

Arja Dileep
In an attempt to balance between the aesthetics of an aspiring writer and the goofiness of a kid.


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