The National Tropical Botanical Garden established the Breadfruit Institute in 2003 to promote the conservation, study, and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation. The Institute is a global leader in efforts to conserve and use breadfruit diversity to support regenerative agriculture, food security, and economic development in the tropics and serves as the international center for breadfruit research and information resources. The Institute curates, studies, and conserves the world’s largest repository of breadfruit diversity—150 cultivars—at NTBG’s Kahanu Garden, Maui, and McBryde Garden, Kauai.
The Institute is also engaged in a Global Hunger Initiative to respond to critical global food security issues and deforestation by expanding plantings of good quality breadfruit varieties in tropical regions. This work is central to our participation in the Alliance to End Hunger—a coalition of 90 corporations, non-profit organizations, universities, individuals, and religious groups working to end hunger domestically and internationally.
Breadfruit Institute Team
Dr. Diane Ragone, Director
Dr. Ragone has been Director of the Breadfruit Institute since its inception in 2003 and began working at NTBG in 1989. She is an authority on the conservation and use of breadfruit, and has conducted horticultural and ethnobotanical studies on this important Pacific staple crop for more than 30 years conducting fieldwork on 50 islands in Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Dr. Ragone is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Hawai`i in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. She has written or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, and book chapters, as well as popular articles on breadfruit. She has also developed extensive print and web-based information resources, including videos. Dr. Ragone received the Star of Oceania in 2013; UH's College of Tropical Agriculture's Distinguished Alumna award in 2015; and the Garden Club of America's Medal of Honor in 2016.
Noel Dickinson, Research Technician
Noel Dickinson, born and raised in Hawai’i, is passionate about sustainable, tropical agricultural practices that are ecologically and socially conscious. She strives to put into practice concepts and theories she has learned academically as well as through her experience farming. She brings this same enthusiasm to her family’s small farming venture, Waikahe Farms, where neem trees are grown, fruits harvested, processed, and value-added products are created on Kauai. While attending the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawaii Hilo, Noel earned a Plant Tissue Culture Certification for breadfruit micropropagation and a B.S. in Tropical Plant Science and Agroecology. After working as a Horticultural Technician in the McBryde Garden of National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai, Noel joined the Breadfruit Institute team as a Research Technician. Noel manages a dynamic breadfruit agroforestry demonstration at the McBryde Garden Breadfruit Research Orchard and assists with various research projects related to NTBG’s breadfruit conservation collection and information resources.
Kama Helakahi, Horticultural Technician
Kama joined our team in 2013. He assists with maintenance and horticultural care of the Breadfruit Collection at Kahanu Garden and supports research and other activities such as harvesting and community outreach. He is certified as a Landscape Industry Certified Technician in Ornamental Maintenance through the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii.
Juliana Prater, Assistant to the Director
Since joining our team in 2016, Juliana coordinates and helps facilitate day-to-day operations, communications, special projects, volunteers, as well as breadfruit harvest in the Breadfruit Research Orchard in McBryde Garden. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing & Management from the University of Alaska Anchorage, facilitated a non-profit youth program called Malama Pono Project Venture at the Pa`ia Youth & Cultural Center on Maui, and has worked with various sustainable, organic food organizations in Hawaii. With her background in business and non-profits, she is able to fulfill her passion in supporting the institute’s mission in breadfruit conservation, regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, food security, and economic opportunities for small- holder farmers.
National Tropical Botanical Garden
3530 Papalina Road
Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawaii 96741 USA
Phone: (808) 332-7324 Ext 221
Fax: (808) 332-9765