Once described as an “unknown” and “underutilized” crop, breadfruit is making a comeback in home kitchens, restaurants, and the international food industry. Educating our worldwide community about the benefits of breadfruit is vital to increase interest and awareness to bring breadfruit from the tree to our tables. The Breadfruit Institute and partners have held workshops, lectures, tree plantings, and cooking demonstrations to educate attendees how to properly harvest, handle, and prepare breadfruit. We continue to develop and publish free resources that teach correct planting and harvesting techniques, provide information about the nutrition and seasonality of different varieties, create curriculum for teachers to teach students about breadfruit, and much more. Outreach and education are key to expanding our international breadfruit community from home gardeners to small-holder farmers to large-scale agriculture.
Increasing food shortages, economic disparity, and environmental decline desperately call for long-term solutions to increase environmental sustainability. By forming solid partnerships and involving our international breadfruit community, the institute is working toward global sustainability by planting breadfruit trees, creating informational resources, and public interaction and education.
Plant a Tree of Life - Grow `Ulu Project
There is a compelling need for agricultural self-sufficiency and better health and nutrition in Hawaii. Hawaii imports about 85% of its food, making it one of the most food-insecure states in the United States. The goal of our Plant a Tree of Life project was to “Increase Food Security in Hawaii and the Tropics by Planting Breadfruit;”and to help provide a sustainable, secure, nutritious and culturally acceptable food supply for Hawaii’s residents.
We distributed 10,480 trees throughout the archipelago between 2012 and 2015. We partnered with more than 220 organizations and groups including schools, churches, health centers, cultural alliances, community associations, and organizations that work with native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, low-income residents, and other constituencies. This project is making a significant impact in Hawaii. Based on an estimate of 8,000 of the distributed trees surviving to maturity and each producing 100 fruit per year—a conservative figure as trees can easily produce 150 to 200, or even more, fruit—we can expect a yield of more than a million pounds of available nutritious fruit per year.
In Years 2 & 3, we expanded our tree distributions to include partners who were involved in planting breadfruit trees through our Global Hunger Initiative in tropical countries that were identified to have need for increased food security. In Year 2 we worked with established partners in Haiti, Liberia, and American Samoa, and developed new partnerships in Samoa and Zambia and shipped 2,300 trees to these countries. In Year 3 we worked with established and new partners, and Haiti, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cameroon, Marshall Islands Chuuk & Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, and American Samoa received a total of 3,964 trees.
Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu Project
In 2010, the Breadfruit Institute and the Hawaii Homegrown Food Network combined forces to form the Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu project. The project aims to revitalize ‘ulu (breadfruit) as an attractive, delicious, nutritious, abundant, affordable, and culturally appropriate food that addresses Hawaii’s food security issues. Since its inception, the project has educated thousands about the benefits of breadfruit through publications, workshops, festivals, cooking demonstrations, school programs, and more.
Produced by the Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu project, the Breadfruit Production Guide is already available in its second edition. The illustrated guide provides an overview of breadfruit, and details best practices to ensure that good quality fruit reaches the consumer.
The Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu project sponsored interactive breadfruit workshops throughout 2014. A series of “Breadfruit: Tree to Table” workshops designed for growers, sellers, cooks, consumers, and community members, were attended by hundreds on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Island.
In 2015, breadfruit made history when Hawaii Governor David Ige and the mayors of all four counties proclaimed September as the month to “Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu O Hawaii Nei”- to lift up and celebrate ‘Ulu (Breadfruit). In honor of this historic month, the Ho‘oulu ka ‘Ulu project launched Breadfruit vs. Potato, a good-humored public education campaign to increase awareness about breadfruit (a locally grown staple food), as a substitute for potato (an imported food). As much as 85 percent of the food consumed in Hawaii is imported, including 57 million pounds of potatoes. Statistics show that if one in three homes in Hawaii had a breadfruit tree, enough breadfruit would be produced to replace potato imports. Nearly a thousand people attended events on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island which showcased breadfruit’s delicious versatility and encouraged the public to eat more locally grown food.
Pacific Regional Breadfruit Initiative
A project of the University of Hawaii’s Pacific Business Center Program, the Pacific Regional Breadfruit Initiative’s (PBRI) is a collaboration of U.S. and Pacific land-grant community colleges, regional universities, research institutions, health and nutrition organizations, medical technology, non-profit, community, faith based, native Hawaiian and indigenous organizations, and local and federal government agencies. PRBI’s primary focus is promoting and strengthening regional collaboration and information sharing to develop a regional breadfruit flour supply and byproducts industry. Added benefits include rejuvenation of island soils, improvement of local health and diets, and sustaining traditional and cultural values and practices of balance and harmony with nature.
The initiative is dedicated to creating a breadfruit industry in the Pacific, and envisions Hawaii as the major processing, refinement, and export hub to the U.S. market for sustainable and gluten-free food products, such as flour made from breadfruit. The institute is a proud member of the PBRI team, contributing research and analysis which affirms the important uses of breadfruit for economic development and opportunity.
In October 2014, the initiative won the University Economic Development Association’s prestigious award for Research and Analysis for their work to promote and expand breadfruit use in the Pacific. PBRI’s outreach team traveled to Micronesia in February of 2015, and together with local agencies presented a series of workshops in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Pohnpei & Chuuk, FSM, and Saipan. The organizers were delighted to see a packed house for each workshop, with hundreds of Pacific Islanders excited to learn more about potential economic opportunities from growing breadfruit and to learn to make breadfruit flour. The workshops shared the latest information on production methods for high quality fruit, and discussed breadfruit as a staple food source that can improve food security and disaster preparedness in the islands.