fruit diplomacy

Meet the Kerala journalist leading a global campaign to put jackfruit on our dinner tables

Shree Padre, editor of the Kannada farm magazine, ‘Adike Patrike’, has published 28 cover stories on his favourite fruit.

Living continents apart, Miriam Martinez Joya and Shyamanna have little in common but their deep and abiding love for the humble jackfruit. Joya, a California-based entrepreneur, drives her jackfruit truck selling value-added jackfruit products every day, while Shyamanna, a practicing doctor, steals time away from his patients to care for the thousands of jackfruit trees growing in his orchard in Devanahalli, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Those who would consider such passion for a fruit misplaced, should meet Joya and Shyamanna’s inspiration – a man named Shree Padre who has become a self-appointed global campaigner for jackfruit in Swarga, Kerala.

At 61, Padre describes himself as “a farmer by profession and a journalist by obsession”. Padre is the founding editor of Areca News – later re-branded as Adike Patrike or the Areca nut magazine – a Kannada publication aimed at educating farmers. Though the magazine once primarily focused on areca nut farming, it came as no surprise to anyone who knew Padre, when Adike Patrike began to publish stories on jackfruit from 2006 – the year Padre took it upon himself to bring the fruit back into the limelight.

A special jackfruit issue of 'Adike Patrike'. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
A special jackfruit issue of 'Adike Patrike'. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike

Jack of all trades

In the past decade under Padre, Adike Patrike has published 28 cover stories on jackfruit – 14 of which were special issues. The articles spoke of the success of jackfruit farmers in India and abroad, entrepreneurs who set up factories for value addition to jackfruit, unique events for promoting the fruit, restaurants that serve unique jackfruit dishes as well as the health benefits of the fruit.

“Since 2006, there has been no issue of Patrike that has not carried at least one or two positive stories about jackfruit,” Padre told Scroll.in with a smile.

It began when Padre realised that Kerala, the largest jackfruit producer in India, also wasted colossal amounts of the fruit every year.“This is even after exporting 50,000 tonnes of the fruit annually to various places in North India,” he said.

Kerala has a deep connection with the biggest tree-borne fruit in the world, which dates back hundreds of years. When the Portuguese arrived in India, they named this fruit Jaca, slightly modifying its original Malayalam name, Chakka. Later, the British amended this further and the modern-day jackfruit received its name. Even today, jackfruit or chakka is an integral part of several Kerala dishes, including the popular Chakka Thoran, a coconut-based fry and Chakka Puzhukku or boiled jackfruit.

Shree Padre. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
Shree Padre. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike

While the fruit is rich in Vitamins B-Complex and C, as well as minerals, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, niacin and sulphur, most people prefer not to cook it because of the tremendous effort required to pluck, cut, and cook the fruit. As a result, it is common to be greeted with the sight (and somewhat cloying scent) of thousands of ripe jackfruits decaying on the ground in Kerala.

In the northern parts of the country, tender jackfruit is eaten mainly as a vegetable. Padre says the city of Nagpur consumes one truck load of tender jackfruit every day. “Phanas Curry is a popular dish in North India which uses jackfruit,” he said. “It is also served as a meat substitute in many restaurants. Jackfruit dishes are a must at big fat North Indian weddings these days.”

Forgotten Kalpavriksha

Frustrated, Padre was desperately looking for a solution to check the colossal wastage of jackfruit in his home town of Swarga, when he found a small advertisement in a Kannada newspaper in 2006.

“It announced vacuum fried jackfruit chips produced by Gokul Foods in Kundapura, near Mangalore in Karnataka,” he said. “I was happy to see a jackfruit processing plant which would reduce wastage. We made it a cover story. There was no looking back since then.”

A special jackfruit issue of 'Adike Patrike'. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
A special jackfruit issue of 'Adike Patrike'. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike

This was just the beginning of Padre’s explorations. The search for still better ways to utilise the jackfruit ultimately took the editor and his team to various places in India and abroad. His travels convinced him that the absence of a supply chain and processing facilities in the country were the biggest problems faced by jackfruit growers. Shortage of labour in villages compounded their woes, as there was no one to pluck the fruit, de-seed it and collect the flakes.

“Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have better utilisation and farming of jackfruit,” he said. “It helps them reduce wastage and ensure food security.”

When he could not travel, the inquisitive farmer-journalist forged ties with farmers and entrepreneurs in various parts of the world who helped him understand the status of jackfruit everywhere through email and WhatsApp. Padre feels that ignorance has caused people to underestimate his favourite fruit and tree. “They fail to understand that this is the real Kalpavriksha, a tree whose every part is useful.”

Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike

In addition to shade, Padre said a jackfruit tree keeps the microclimate cool. Its dry leaves can be used to cover vegetable and flower plants, while green leaves and roots are used as medicines. As the tree grows bigger over the years, there is a huge demand for its timber.

“Jackfruit is among the biggest organically grown fruit,” he said. “It can be used either as a vegetable or fruit. However, people these days are ignoring the tree and fruit.”

At present, Padre is the administrator of two groups on email and WhatsApp, on which over 200 members discuss the issues faced by jackfruit growers everywhere. The Aranmula Jackfruit Whatsapp group includes Kerala’s Minister for Agriculture, VS Sunil Kumar.

“It makes me happy to know that I inspired Miriam Joya to set up the jack-truck in California, or Dr Shyamanna to grow an entire jackfruit orchard in Bangalore,” he said. Although Adike Patrike is published in Kannada, Padre sends images of each story the magazine carries with English captions, to his worldwide jackfruit-fan club through email and WhatsApp.

“Many people had ridiculed us when we started promoting jackfruit,” Padre said with the air of a man whose efforts had finally borne fruit. “But things have changed – the jackfruit is definitely going to be the next big thing on Indian dining tables soon.”

A jackfruit special issue cover of Adike Patrike. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
A jackfruit special issue cover of Adike Patrike. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
Chakka Puzhukku, a jackfruit dish. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
Chakka Puzhukku, a jackfruit dish. Photo courtesy: Adike Patrike
Jackfruit curry. Photo Courtesy: Shree Padre
Jackfruit curry. Photo Courtesy: Shree Padre
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival

We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.