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.
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. It has developed strong partnerships to make breadfruit varieties available as a viable sustainable resource for agriculture, agroforestry, reforestation and economic development. More than 300 breadfruit trees are conserved in our living collection—the largest collection of breadfruit trees in the world. The Institute and partners have been able to use plant material from our collection to micropropagate breadfruit trees that are being sent to tropical countries worldwide. Since the launch of the Global Hunger Initiative in 2009, more than 100,000 breadfruit trees have been sent to 44 countries.
Global Distribution Initiative
Strategic partnerships are key to realizing breadfruit’s global potential. The Institute is a member of the Alliance to End Hunger, a coalition of 90 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 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.”
A research team led by Dr. Susan Murch at the University of British Columbia at Okanagan has worked with the Breadfruit Institute since 2004 to develop micropropagation methods to conserve and distribute breadfruit varieties. 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 micropropagation that would enable global distribution of the plants, but in a way that would substantially improve the success rate of past efforts. After extensive research, the Cultivaris team has developed a system of producing and shipping healthy, vigorous young plants that will grow quickly and easily into productive trees. At this critical time of global food security issues, this exciting partnership between a botanical garden, researchers, governments, 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.