Jackfruit is a champion crop of Eastern Visayas and with the introduction of “EVIARC Sweet” variety, Region 8 has been recognized as the ‘jackfruit capital of the country’. The variety was named after its developer, the Eastern Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center (EVIARC) of the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Office (DA-RFO) 8.
The “EVIARC Sweet” is a National Seed Industry Council (NSIC)-registered variety in 2007. Its fruit is aromatic, ellipsoid in shape and contains moderate later. The color of its aril is golden yellow. The tree is about seven meters tall with spreading branches and produces on the average 35 fruits per fruiting season.
The development of the Eastern Visayas’ jackfruit industry has picked up as a result of the various Research and Development and Extension (RDE) initiatives and other support systems of the DA-RFO 8.
From 2010 to 2013, DA-EVIARC, in collaboration with VSU developed and introduced technology interventions on jackfruit production and product processing through the “Community-based Participatory Action Research on jackfruit Production and Processing in Barangays San Isidro and Malinao in Mahaplag, Leyte.” Funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the project aimed to pilot a village-level production and processing scheme for jackfruit to support the commercialization of jackfruit in the region.
BAR has since then intensified its support on jackfruit R&D initiatives.
BAR has funded projects that aimed to maximize the full potential of jackfruit. One of which was the BAR-VSU project that was aimed to produce chitin and chitosan from chitin-containing crustacean exoskeleton wastes, and to evaluate their potential together with raw materials for the control of Phytophthora palmivora—the cause of the decline syndrome that plagued the Eastern Visayas’ jackfruit industry in the late nineties. Chitin and chitosan which are reported to induce resistance against several diseases may have the potential to control jackfruit decline. However, these were not readily available to the local farmers. Through the BAR-VSU project, the researchers were able to identify the most effective chitin and chitosan source and the most effective method of treatment application.
Among the significant findings of the BAR-VSU project were: 1) chitin and chitosan extracted from shrimp and crab exoskeletons were comparable with standards; 2) both chitin and chitosan were effective in controlling the disease in inoculated jackfruit seedling; 3) monthly stem injection was the most cost-effective method of chitosan application followed by weekly spraying; and 4) chitosan was more effective in reducing lesion length when applied before pathogen inoculation or as preventive treatment than when applied after pathogen inoculation or as eradicative treatment.
BAR also funded another VSU project that increase the productivity and raise competitiveness of the jackfruit industry in Eastern Visayas through science-based manipulation of year-round production of fruits to support fresh market and processing industries. Implemented by VSU, the study sought to develop techniques for increasing female flower production of jackfruit trees, for off-season/continuous flowering and fruiting in jackfruit, and for improved fruit development, and to improve nutrient management.
The University of the Philippines Los Baños, through funding support from BAR, is currently exploring ways to improve the characterization, conservation and utilization of jackfruit and its related endemic species through the creation of quick, cost-effective and reliable identification, monitoring and characterization scheme using DNA barcodes, georeferenced maps and characterization profiles.
With the technical experts from DA-RFO 8 drafting for the jackfruit roadmap, the Agriculture Secretary’s support to the industry, and the R&D initiatives to maximize the industry’s potential, the jackfruit industry is indeed looking forward to a sweeter future. (Rena S. Hermoso, DA-BAR)