1. Success Story

“King of Jackfruit”, This Farmer Grows 75 Varieties of Jackfruit in His Farm & Earns Good Income From It

M Kanika
M Kanika
Harishchandra Desai's Son Mithilesh Desai
Harishchandra Desai's Son Mithilesh Desai

This progressive farmer lives in the village of Zapade, in Maharashtra. He has steered clear of growing the Alphonso Mangoes, which is the first choice of every Konkan Farmer. Instead, the farmer has introduced the cultivation of jackfruit in the region. Harishchandra Desai is the only farmer in this state to have devoted 13 acres of farmland- located in Lanja Taluk of Ratnagiri, to solely grow this otherwise ignored fruit.  

At 60, Desai looks towards the future, when phanas (Marathi word of Jackfruit) will receive its dues for bringing prosperity to farmers in the wettest region of the state.Every year, a week before the Vat Poornima in June, traders aim at Konkan villages to pick jackfruits & pay paltry of Rs 5 to 10 per fruit” Says Desai, while adding “I want to change that”.

He believes that the farmer can earn Rs 100 to 200 per fruit, as they did in Toobugere village in the Karnataka after Jackfruit growers’ association formed there. It is the first and only association in the country with direct connectivity to the market.

Jackfruit – The Fruit of the Future

There are two different kinds of jackfruits0 the softer rassal & firmer kaapo. Tender jackfruits are used to make a phanasachi bhaji, while the ripe ones are sold as fruits. They are mostly grown without any management practices, jackfruits are the promising fruits that are grown organically by default. The researchers believe that this fruit could be a replacement for corn, wheat & other staple crops which are under threat from climate change.

According to Dr. P Rajendran of Kerala Agriculture University, “Jackfruit trees are solar efficient & in five years period, add 12% organic carbon to the soil, which is equivalent to 40 tonnes of a carbon”.

World’s Largest Fruit has different Names & these are as follows:

  • Kathal (Hindi).

  • Phanas (Marathi).

  • Chakka (Malayalam).

  • HalasuHalasinaHannu & Kujee (Kannada).

  • Kathal, Gach Patha (Akin to Vegetarian Meat).

  • Enchor(Bangla).

“Phanasachi Raja”(King of Jackfruit)

In the effort to popularize the cultivation of jackfruit in Maharashtra, Desai has started nurseries as well. During lockdown owing to a pandemic, he sold around 3,000 saplings to the growers from Sangli, Nashik, Karad, and Panshet & Satara and has an additional 10,000 saplings awaiting sale. He says “I educate the prospective grower on selecting the variety according to one’s agro climate. What is grown in Ratnagiri is not suitable for the dry region, like Karad”.

His advice to the farmers to limit vertical growth of the tree while encouraging its horizontal spread, his mantra is “Don’t let it grow beyond 12 to 15 ft. that will make it easy to pluck fruit”.

Desai has 75 varieties growing on his orchard & is well versed with details such as places of its origin preferred region for its planning, the month it bears fruits, total weight color of its fruit bulb & its weight when it is harvested. He can rattle their fancy names too such as, Jalbhog Raja, Tubbogera, Madagascar Gomleos, Vietnam Seedless, Super Early, Milky White, Kaudisingana Kachahalli, J 33, ChampadakSingapoori etc.  

A variety that is developed by him is called Desai Kappa, which he considered to be the sweetest, is very famous among the growers in Kerala. He even guides farmers on the fruits TSS (Total Soluble Solids) aka, its sugar content. “I have trees with fruits that have TSS between 15% to 30%,” says Desai.

Desai has collected different varieties of jackfruit from different countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, & Vietnam. His 1,250+ plants of the different cultivators are spread across 13 acres & yield at different times of the year. On the remaining 10 acres Desai grows, cashew.

He was the only farmer from the state of Maharashtra to attend the 2017 International Jackfruit Festival, which was held in Wayanad, Kerala. His passion for fruit has earned him the title of “Phanasachi Raja” (King of Jackfruits). He is supported in his “Jackfruit mission” by his son Mithilesh, an Agri Engineer & a Civil Services aspirant, who has abandoned his dream to become a farmer instead.

Sri Padre, Editor, Adhike Patrike, who has an encyclopedic knowledge about fruit & believes in its potential to bring radical change in the life of the growers, says about Desai, “He has taken an interest in Jackfruit when no one else is serious about it in Konkan region.

He has shown models & displayed a professional approach that can bring good dividends. Systematic cultivation, promotion of fruit & a bit of marketing can take care of farmers’ livelihood for decades. What is remarkable is that Desai supported in this endeavor by his son as well”.  

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