A team of five scientists from the Pacific were invited to present breadfruit research at the International Breadfruit Congress held recently in Trinidad and Tobago.
Their participation was supported by the European Union-funded Pacific Agricultural Policy Program (PAPP) implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) as part of the IntraACP APP programme across the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean.
With the theme, ‘Commercialising breadfruit for food and nutrition security’, the congress was organised by the University of the West Indies where breadfruit is strongly promoted as a crop for the future.
The Pacific is the world-centre of diversity for breadfruit, and based on recent molecular findings seedless varieties originated from Samoa and Vanuatu the origin of seeded varieties.
The most popular Samoan variety, ma’afala, has been widely adopted in Africa and the Caribbean.
The scientists from the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (Kuinimeri Asora-Finau), Livai Tora (Fiji Kokosiga Ltd) and from SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees, represented by Arshni Shandil, Kaitu Erasito and Valerie Saena-Tuia, presented research on the production of breadfruit planting material enhanced using a bioreactor system. They also covered the comparative advantage of using breadfruit in an orchard to address climate change, and the value-adding of breadfruit into flour, beer-making and other products.
The Pacific delegation also included representatives from the National Tropical Botanical Garden of Hawaii and university students from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Samoa who are studying in Trinidad.
The congress attracted over 100 global breadfruit experts to share their knowledge, and discuss challenges and solutions on breadfruit development of its potential as commercial and nutritional crop for food security. The event covered a wide range of issues, from agricultural policies, food and nutrition, germplasm propagation, production management, post-harvest and processing, economics and value-chain and field trips.
According to the Pacific delegation, many useful lessons were learned at the event (held 6 to 7 June 2015 ), including the realisation of breadfruit as a potential cash crop to capitalise on the USD 50 billion gluten-free market, advanced low technology mass propagation techniques in screenhouse using stem cuttings to fast track supply of good planting material to farmers, advancement in product development and post-harvest research, agritourism potential and breadfruit festivals capitalising on the Pacific-Caribbean experiences, and strengthening the Pacific-Caribbean knowledge exchange networks.
The congress was a follow-up on the first Intra-ACP breadfruit symposium held in Fiji in 2007, organised by SPC in collaboration with the National Tropical Botanical Garden based in Hawaii.
The Pacific delegation acknowledged the assistance of European Union funded Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) for facilitating their participation at the breadfruit congress.
PAPP project encourages technical exchanges and learning opportunities among scientists, educators, farmer groups and international organisations for lessons learnt on new technology to benefit smallholder farmers.