Breadfruit for Food Security

By Linda Straker

Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola is hopeful that the recent breadfruit conference in Trinidad will lay the foundation for the region to see the produce as an important crop that has the potential to assist in the food security initiatives of the region.

“Breadfruit can be used to do a number of other things other than what we know such as preparing our national oil down dish. Once we get it going in terms of developing products, where there will be a demand for breadfruit as a raw material. We will push, because our farmers will want it,” said Bhola, who was at the time highlighting the number of plants that Government will be distributing from the Mirebeau farms.

Where there is a demand for soursop, cocoa and nutmeg, “farmers are not demanding breadfruit plants,” Bhola said. “Right now we only have requests for 156 plants; we have 1,224 that are available,” he added.

Recently, Roderick St Clair, Business Development Manager at the Marketing and National Importing Board, was among persons within the region who had gathered in Trinidad for the 2015 International Breadfruit Conference. Under the theme: “Commercialising breadfruit for food and nutrition security”, the University of the West Indies hosted the 1 week event, which concluded with a Breadfruit festival and exhibition.

The thematic areas for the 2015 International Breadfruit Conference were:

  • historical perspectives/ agricultural policies
  • human nutrition and health
  • germplasm collection, conservation, evaluation, distribution
  • propagation
  • production management
  • postharvest technology
  • value — addition and utilisation
  • marketing and consumption
  • economics, supply chain and value-chain analyses

Bhola said that one of the good things about such a conference is that it will bring out different strategies and initiatives that are taking place within the region as it relates to breadfruit, and now it will be on each country to make effective use of the information. “The important thing from this conference is what it will provide us as policy makers in the region, to have an appreciation for what we have in this region and intitiatives that can be successfully implemented, if we are to make Grenada and all other islands have an effective sustainable food security programmes,” he said.

The Goal and Objectives of the conference which was opened to Policy makers; Health-related professionals; Researchers; Growers/producers; Food processors; Traders; Extension agents; Business enterprises/entrepreneurs; NGOs and community groups; Consumers and Tertiary-level students, was to realise the potential of breadfruit to contribute to food and nutrition security through promoting entrepreneurial efforts and development.

The conference also provided a forum for entrepreneurs in the food and agriculture sector, including rural communities, to discuss the key issues affecting the commercial potential of breadfruit and breadnut, and create opportunities for networking among public and private sectors, rural communities and research institutions for the future development of these crops for food and nutrition security.

The Convenors of the conference were Dr Laura B. Roberts–Nkrumahand Dr Majeed Mohammed.

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