Gov’t to groom Jackfruit as next ‘star’ of high value crops
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the lowly “langka” called Jackfruit in english — a fruit tree that is native to the Philippines, India and other Southeast Asian countries — is now being groomed to be the next star of the country’s high value crops as demand for the fruit has increased over the years.
“The irony of it all is that while the “langka” (artocarpus heterophyllus) naturally grows in the Philippines, the demand for its sweet and fleshy fruit by food processors has been so tremendous that local farmers could not supply the needed volume,” Piñol said.
It then resulted in the importation of about P500-million worth of frozen jackfruits every year from Vietnam and Thailand.
“Langka” is used by ice cream processors and the makers of “Turon,” a Filipino delicacy consisting of ‘Saba” banana in flour wrap with a slice of sweet “langka” embedded in the middle of the banana.
Over the weekend, Piñol said he was visited by Virginia dela Fuente, President of the Mango Growers Federation of the Philippines and an advocate on the promotion of Filipino high-value fruits, to report the problem being encountered by Filipino food processors because of the shortage of “langka.”
“It was not until yesterday when Virgie dela Fuente’s visit reminded me of the need to plant more Jackfruits. This fits well with the program that we are implementing now in the Department of Agriculture which encourages farmers living in mountainous or sloped and undulating areas to plant fruit trees instead of cash crops to prevent landslides and soil erosion,” Piñol said.
“With this development now, the DA regional offices will be directed to establish clonal gardens for the outstanding “VSU Abuyog Sweet” varieties so that regional nurseries could share the scions to nursery operators in their areas,” he added.
Piñol said he will also encourage nursery operators to acquire scions from the few hundred “Abuyog Sweet” Jackfruits that he has in his farm so that other farmers could have access to the outstanding variety which promises additional income.