Research on jackfruit diseases gets underway


By Dr Daljit Singh

LANCHANG: The problem of browning of jackfruits or rust coloured specs or streaks appearing on the flesh of the fruits has inevitably caused a decline in jackfruit harvest yields in the country.

This is because buyers refused to buy diseased fruits, causing the demand for jackfruits to be less favourable. The problem of browning mainly affects the J33 honey jackfruits.

Although the demand for honey jackfruits in the local and overseas markets is high as it tastes yummy and sweet, jackfruit browning has reduced harvests by 30% each year.

Among the benefits that one gets from consuming jackfruits are that it helps to lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation in the body. It is also rich in vitamins A and C (anti-oxidant) and helps to strengthen the immune system against diseases, plus maintaining healthy eyes and skin.

In an attempt to overcome the problem of browning, a company that plants jackfruits in its plantation, KMT Group, has engaged researchers of University Putra Malaysia (UPM) to review and take some samples of fruits, leaves, barks and soils for analysis.

Dr Mohd Termizi Yusof, Dr Dzari-fah Zulperi, Dr Izera Siti Ismail, Dr. Daljit Singh Karam and Dr Mohd Mansor Hakiman conducted a day-visit at the farm recently to review the state of the farm.

Termizi, a microbiologist from the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Bio-molecular Sciences, UPM, said the visit revealed that jackfruits planted in the farm bore different diseases, namely cancer, browning and fungi.

He said that the samples taken will be analysed to determine the cause of the diseases before mitigation measures could be taken to reduce the spread of diseases to healthy trees. “One of the measures to over-come the problem is by carrying out mixed planting.

“Sanitary in the estate before planting is carried out should be done because we do not know for sure whether there are vectors of diseases present in the soil or the environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dzarifah, Plant Pathologist from the Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, UPM said the equip-ment used for planting, fertilising and harvesting must also be ascertained to be clean at all times before and after use because dis-eases could be spread through the equipment.

“So far, our hypothesis reveals that browning symptoms begin after flowering.  Browning is also caused by a bacterial infection, Pantoea stewartii, that affects the fruits directly as well as its quality.

“We have taken a few samples of different age level for analysis,” he said.

Meanwhile, KMT Group General Manager, Ng Swee Pen said the problem was not new but the company had been constantly moni-toring the quality of fruits produced in its farm.

“It’s only now that we are facing this attack of browning symptoms which make us unable to sell our jackfruits.

”KMT Group Business Develop-ment Director, Dr Lee Kok Loong, said in addition to engaging UPM researchers, the company has also resorted to using a variety of appropriate cultivation methods, including upgrading the sanitary system and the equipment  used.  ― UPM