We call it unripe or even immature jackfruit, but for Judith Bakirya, this is what she is yearning for because it is gold. Bakirya exports ‘immature’ jackfruit to the Netherlands.
“We harvest them at least a month after fruiting. This is before they develop the flesh inside,” she says. The average weight is about 2kg at the time of harvest. They are then chopped after removing the outer cover into small pieces, packed in airtight containers and then exported.
In the Netherlands, these are boiled, mixed with spices like tomatoes and cooking oil or eaten as a vegetable sauce.
“It is a delicacy especially for vegetarians,” Bakirya says.
Bakirya, from Wanyange in Jinja city, emerged second overall Best Farmer during the 2014 competition. This was the first edition of the Best Farmers competition. The Best Farmers competition is organised by Vision Group with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands, dfcu Bank, KLM Airlines and Koudijs Nutrition BV. The 2022 competition is expected to kick off in
In 2014, BUFRUIT won the best farmers competition as the second overall farm. She used the sh30m award to expand water for production resources on the farm.
Bakirya says BUFRUIT is an agri-heritage fruit farm, blending agriculture, nature and culture. BUFRUIT produces fruits and herbs and keeps sheep and poultry on its 1,064 acres of land with an estimated asset base of $1.5m.
There are two Branches of the farm: BUFRUIT –Jinja Branch (62 acres) and BUFRUIT – Bugiri (1,002 acres). Bakirya planted all the jackfruit trees on the farm.
Tastes like meat
“It tastes like meat after it has been prepared,” Bakirya says.
Her group, Mikono Young Jackfruit, exports at least 10 tonnes of this delicacy to the Netherlands each year.
She was introduced to the Dutch market about two years ago through the Embassy of the Netherlands.
The fruit is harvested before it gets fibrous inside. Mikono was coined from Mukono (hand). And because there are many women’s hands involved in this enterprise, especially at the packing level, the group was named ‘Mikono’. The product is sold by Gloe & Zeitz BV in the Netherlands.
“This is the order that we have now,” she says. A 500-gramme tin costs $3(sh11,000). From the two-kilogramme fruit, farmers get at least three tins, earning a gross of at least sh33,000. On the other hand, a mature jackfruit costs about sh4,000 on the farm in most parts of Uganda. Overall, the 10 tonnes are worthy $60,000 (about sh210m).
Bakirya`s Busaino Fruit (BUFRUIT) farm has got a lot of jackfruit trees. She says they are in hundreds which means that getting the raw materials for export is not a big challenge. However, she has also got a group of outgrowers who supply her with the fruit.
“We were assisted by Business Lab, Uganda to get the required standards and understand the proper quality and standards practices and this enabled us to meet the criteria for export,” Bakirya says. Business Lab is a Dutch group based in Uganda.
Josephat Byaruhanga, the agriculture policy officer at the Embassy of the Netherlands, says these seemingly ‘useless’ young fruits are a sign of how much potential Ugandan agriculture has.
“It is one of those unique innovations. We linked her to experts who helped her improve and meet the export standards,” Byaruhanga says.
Other benefits of jackfruit
Beyond selling the young fruits, Bakirya also sells mature jackfruits.
Jackfruit makes a good addition to fruit salad. While most Ugandans eat it fresh, jackfruit can also be preserved as syrup or dried. The flesh can also be used in ice cream, curries and deep fries or simply served chilled. The seeds can be eaten boiled roasted chest nuts.
Bakirya says jackfruit is rich in carbohydrate. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A and C in addition to good fibre iron and moderate zinc. Jackfruit helps in controlling high blood pressure.
However, they eat it for its sweetness, without knowing its other nutritional value.
Jackfruit is rich in energy, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins. Some of the minerals include; potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron.
Others are; copper, calcium, zinc and it provides a small amount of selenium.