Breadfruit, a staple crop grown in the Pacific Islands, has been introduced at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The crop, a tree of economic value which grows better in hot and wet weather, is capable of producing about a tone of fruits (2,000 pounds of fruits) per tree. It reaches optimum maturity five years after it starts production and produces fruits two years after planting.
Breadfruit is a primary component of traditional agro-forestry systems in the Pacific where numerous varieties are grown. In Africa, the crop is only grown in the West African countries of Benin, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.
The crop is a tool for economic development that makes farming profitable for farmers, lowers the cost of healthy food and stimulates the local economy with local food production.
See Also: Sh45 unga set to hit the Kenyan market
According to Josh Schneider of the Global Breadfruit in the United States of America, the crop is gluten-free (a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids) and can be consumed at all stages of development, ripe as a fruit or mature as a vegetable, where it can replace conventional starches.
While appreciating Mr Schneider for the partnership during the planting of the crop at the University’s Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre (SAJOREC) in Juja at a function that was witnessed by the University Council members who also planted a tree each, the Vice Chancellor Prof Mabel Imbuga pledged her support to the Global Breadfruit project.
She said JKUAT was privileged to be the entry point for the plant in the East and Central Africa region from where other countries could acquire tissue culture clones from.
Many products can be obtained from the crop. These include fruits, free flour to make fries, insect repellent, animal feeds, fabrics, wine, vodka and beer, among many other things. With these, therefore, it can take care of issues touching on food security, nutrition, economic opportunities and sustainability.
Breadfruit was first domesticated in the western Pacific and spread by humans throughout the region over the past 3,000 – 4,000 years.