The Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawai'i, is engaged in an initiative to respond to critical global food security issues by expanding plantings of good quality breadfruit varieties in tropical regions. The Institute conserves and manages the world's largest collection of breadfruit. It has developed strong partnerships to make breadfruit varieties available as a viable sustainable resource for agriculture, agroforestry, and reforestation.
More than 80% of the world's hungry live in tropical and subtropical regions. Facing soaring food, fuel, and fertilizer costs, farmers in the tropics need sustainable, low-input, nutritious crops. Many countries, with a total population of over 2 billion people, have ecological conditions suitable for cultivating breadfruit.
Breadfruit trees grow easily in a wide range of ecological conditions with minimal input of labor or materials and require little attention or care. Trees begin to bear fruit in three to five years, producing for many decades. An average-sized tree with a canopy cover of 25m2 will conservatively produce 100 fruit (100 kg) while larger trees can yield 400-600 fruit. Yields are superior to other starchy staples due, in part, to its verticality of production. A similar-sized plot of land planted in plantains or root and tuber crops will produce less food while needing greater labor and materials. Breadfruit contributes to sustainable food security, diversified sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, improved soil conditions and watersheds, and valuable environmental benefits including reduction of CO2.
Nutritionally, breadfruit is high in carbohydrates and a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and niacin. Some breadfruit varieties are also good sources of anti-oxidants and carotenoids. Prepared and eaten at all stages of development, it can be roasted, baked, boiled, fried, pickled, fermented, frozen, and dried and ground into flour or starch. A seeded form known as 'breadnut' is grown for its nutritious, tasty seeds which contain 13-20% protein, 6-29% fat, and are a good source of potassium, calcium, and niacin. Seeds are boiled, roasted, or ground into meal or flour.
GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION INITIATIVE
Strategic partnerships are key to realizing breadfruit's global potential. The Breadfruit Institute is working with NGOs on pilot projects to distribute breadfruit varieties to Honduras and the Caribbean. The Institute is a member of the Alliance to End Hunger, (a coalition of 70 corporations, non-profit organizations, universities, individuals, and religious groups, working together to create real change for hungry people. In August 2008, NTBG and the Government of Samoa entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) allowing NTBG to distribute three Samoan breadfruit varieties globally through a horticultural partner, Cultivaris, LLC. The first of several agreements in progress with countries of origin for breadfruit varieties at NTBG, this benefit-sharing arrangement will support conservation and capacity building in the Pacific, helping perpetuate traditional crop varieties and cultural knowledge. This landmark agreement underscores NTBG's commitment to the "Convention on Biological Diversity."
Cultivaris LLC is an innovative horticultural company with extensive experience in producing and marketing plants globally. In 2008, the Breadfruit Institute asked Cultivaris, the parent company of Global Breadfruit, to develop a method of commercial distribution that would enable global distribution of the plants, but in a way that would substantially improve the success rate of past efforts. The management put together a team and after extensive research, developed a system of shipping healthy, vigorous young plants that will grow quickly and easily into a productive trees. At this critical time of global food security issues, this exciting partnership between researchers, government, and the private sector now makes widespread cultivation and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation feasible. This project can alleviate hunger, provide long-term food security, and enhance the livelihoods of farmers in the tropics.
The Breadfruit Institute is seeking partners to help fund this work and distribute trees to farmers in the tropics. Contact us to learn more about how to become involved in our breadfruit initiative.