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Breadfruit and Caribbean Food Systems

Updated: Mar 5



A Viable Starch:

34 percent of calories consumed by Jamaicans come from cereals[1] . In the same report, a survey of 700 households in the Kingston Metropolitan Area reveals that close to 90 percent of people consume cereals within a 24-hour time period. A significant portion of this as baked good from flour (such as bread and crackers). Breadfruit can replaces this.


“With production of approximately 300 fruits per year with mature trees, one simple intervention could impact more than 10,000 families if we begin to share our resources, talk with our neighbours, and genuinely look out for each other’s interests. It is literally bread that grows on trees, food for our future.” - Forbes: Breadfruit, Climate Change And An Agriculturist’s Vision For Caribbean Food Security

Food Sovereignty

Over the past 15 years the country has become increasingly reliant on imported goods such as grains, soybean, fruits, vegetables, meats and more.[1] This high reliance on food imports makes food security in Jamaica increasingly vulnerable to external factors. In particular, political and environmental factors. With this in mind, utilising locally grown breadfruit has the potential to directly combat this food insecurity. As we see more extreme weather and climate shocks across the Caribbean, a local food supply that is especially resistant to strong weather conditions is a powerful asset to Jamaica and the surrounding islands. 


Public Health

Research suggests that the general food consumption profile of Jamaicans is characterised by a limited variety of low-nutrient and high-calorie foods.. At the same time, undernourishment among children under five has been increasing along with anaemia among women of reproductive age and persistent rates of obesity across the population.[2] Food sources and availability are significant contributing factors to these public health issues, along with sufficient nutritional education, as noted by the FAO.


Obviously, the nutrtional properties of breadfruit have huge potential to improve the diets and health of people in Jamaica, but what sets it apart from other fruits and vegetables that are not being consumed, is that it is an easy substitute or replacement for staple starches - the most consumed food group by Jamaicans.


Breadfruit Nutrition:

Breadfruit provides a wide variety of nutrients. For example, a 100g serving of boiled breadfruit (as recommended by the FDA) can provide up to 9.3, 3.3, 7.0 and 20.2 percent of one's daily requirements for vitamin B1, B2, B3, and C respectively.[3]

Replacing just a small amount of the calories consumed through cereals (34%) with breadfruit products could significantly improve the nutritional value of people's diets.


“Although breadfruit doesn’t have a lot of protein, it’s about double the amount in white rice or potatoes, and that protein contains all nine essential amino acids (levels vary depending on the variety). Breadfruit also provides potassium, magnesium and other minerals. It can be high in Vitamin C, with up to 29g per 100g serving. Small amounts of carotenoids—compounds thought to help eye health, like beta-carotene and lutein—are in breadfruit too.” - Patagonia Provisions

Viable Agro-Processing.

The majority of fresh fruit is wasted. Breadfruit can be used to create  shelf-stable flour. Adding diversity to the markert. The process is relatively easy and economical, and can be done at all scales from home businesses to wholesale distribution.


Viable on Smallholdings

The majority of farmers are smallholders[4] As a result, the low levels of local processing contribute to the country's dependence on imported goods. Across the Caribbean and elsewhere there is growing knowledge and success surrounding the production and processing of breadfruit. Household operations and large landowners alike have successfully been able to supplement their local food supply and diversify their income streams. The fruit provides a particularly strong opportunity for the smaller, marginalised groups to better their financial stability with little overhead investment or risk.


References:


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