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How Red Coloured Jackfruit Turned Aerospace Engineer Into A Pomologist

Aerospace engineer M Premkumar who works for Honeywell Aerospace in Bengaluru has turned a Pomologist, a specialist in fruit culture. Call it serendipity. While travelling through rural areas of Karnataka he came across an unusual red variety of Jackfruit which was succulent and dripping with sweetness. Immediately he fell in love with this fruit and felt it should be grown in his village in Tamil Nadu’s Ranipettai district. He zeroed in on some 30 of these exotic red varieties and set up a model red Jackfruit breeding farm and raised 1500 saplings, and sold it for Rs 250 per sapling. Says Premkumar “These saplings need care for three years, and then they can live up to more than 50 years yielding soft fleshy fruits which don’t spoil for up to five days.“ The ordinary jackfruit yields just 20% of its weight as edible fruit, while the red variety yields up to 65% per kg. This makes the red variety hugely attractive in terms of investment as 1 acre can accommodate 70 saplings. Unripe Jackfruit is already in big demand globally, as it tastes like shredded chicken, pulled pork and is considered a boon for vegans.  Premkumar is trying to develop uniform varieties for creating a market under the National Horticulture Mission.  To connect Jackfruit farmers world over he has started a WhatsApp group that exchanges ideas for this fruit.