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Scientists, business developers & farmers explore breadfruit potentials

 

Delegates of the 2017 Pacific and Global Breadfruit Summit now in progress in Apia, Samoa until the end of the week

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER 2017: Scientists, business developers, investors, traditional community leaders, food technology experts, farmers and project developers are meeting in Apia this week to share and explore the benefits of the breadfruit tree as a health remedy and its commercial potentials.

Over a hundred delegates are in Apia for the 2017 Pacific & Global Breadfruit Summit on the theme of “Home of the Ma’afala that was officially opened by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and SROS, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua yesterday.

As part of the official opening, Kahu Dr. Francine Park-Palama from Hawaii (where much research has been done on the health and economic potential of the breadfruit) presented a traditional passing of the spirit of the Ulu Summit from Hawai’i to Samoa.

After presenting an ancient Hawaiian chant of the spirits, Kahu Dr. Francine presented to MAF’s Associate Minister, Fa’aso’otauloa Pati an ‘ula’ as a symbol of the traditional passing of the spirit.

“Breadfruit is principally grown as a subsistence crop in most areas of the world, with the Pacific and Caribbean islands being the major production areas,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Lopao’o Natainelu Mu’a.

“This multipurpose tree has been promoted as the tree of life, improved soil condition and protected watersheds and also help mitigate climate change effects when planted on open lands, and that all parts of the tree are used to provide food, timber, animal feed and even the male flower if properly processed, can be used as a mosquito repellent,” said Lopao’o.

In terms of value added, there has been considerable interest and drive in Hawaii, for the Pacific and the Caribbean islands to develop the most efficient economical ways to commercially process the fruit into flour.

Samoa and American Samoa are some of two countries that are already investing in breadfruit flour and there is a move to draw commercial interest into this area.

The ma’afala, one of several breadfruit species that grow very well in Samoa and most of the fruits are left to rot

The first symposium on breadfruit research and development was held in 2007 in Nadi, Fiji, and the meeting focused on issues such as conservation, research development and made recommendations for future projects and priorities.

In 2012, Samoa and American Samoa held their own summit that highlighted the need to join efforts to improve the use of the under-utilized breadfruit tree and focused on matters such as primary production, post-harvest and technology.

“There was also talk on value added processing to produce gluten free flour and other food products with the desired  outcome of establishing a breadfruit flour industry for both Samoas to tap into the US market for gluten free products and other countries like Japan,” said Lopao’o.

Three more international breadfruit focused meetings followed, and in 2015, the International Breadfruit Conference and Commercializing Breadfruit Food & Security meeting was held in Trinidad and Tobago.

The 2016 summit was held in Hawai’i where Samoa was chosen to host the current summit.

The summit will be on for three days and among the experts from around the world presenting papers are Samoans such as Afamasaga Toleafoa, President of the Samoa Farmers Association; Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, President of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME); Papali’i Grant Percival of the Natural Foods International, Asiata Dr. Satupaitea Viali, and Dr. Walter Vermullen.

The delegates will also participate in the Agriculture Show that opened this morning and will run till the end of the week.

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