ASCC-ACNR Reps Participate in Global Breadfruit Summit
September 14, 2016
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The humble breadfruit, long a staple of the Samoan diet in both traditional and modern times, has increasingly gained recognition as “potentially one of the most important crops of the 21st century.” This was the message of the 2016 Global Breadfruit Summit, held from August 27th – 31st at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, and attended by three representatives of the Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) division of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC).
During the five-day event, authorities from the Pacific region and beyond illuminated the diverse potential impact of breadfruit on health, community-based economic development, propagation, food security, environmental stability, commercialization, manufacturing, regional and global collaboration, international organizational development and change, supply, distribution and logistics, product development, certification and training, green energy and fuel potential, technology, and agricultural initiative. ASCC-ACNR representatives attending included Director Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, Agriculture Extension Program Manager Autagavaia Alfred Peters, and Horticulturalist Dr. Ian Gurr.
American Samoa’s own Nikolao Pula, Director of the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, provided the Summit’s keynote address. ASCC-ACNR Director Areta gave a presentation on "Masi Samoa - Fermented Breadfruit" during the Breadfruit Regional Farmers and Growing Experts panel. Other presenters from American Samoa included Department of Commerce Director, Fuiavailiili Keniseli Lafaele and Swains Island Representative Su’a Alexander Jennings.
Other presenters and observers at the event included farmers, business people, agriculture professionals, researchers, food scientists, agriculture engineers, nutritionists, sociologists, doctors and anyone interested in any of the many aspects of breadfruit. “My favorite presentation was by Dr. Susan Murch of the University of British Columbia on Breadfruit Nutrition and Propagation,” said Areta. “In addition to being gluten free, breadfruit has a higher protein content than soybean and other crops. I envision ASCC-ACNR playing an important role in the propagation of breadfruit via tissue culture and also serving as a training center and avenue to assist with the processing, marketing, standardization, and export of ulu products to the US market in the future.”
“Breadfruit once had limited value because of its perishability,” added Dr. Gurr. “Today, through new methods of preservation and preparation, and due to the demand for gluten free products, breadfruit has the potential to become a very valuable food crop with increasing local and worldwide markets.” Dr. Gurr found presenter Dr. Fadi Aramouni of the Food Science Institute at Kansas State University, particularly impressive. “He and two of his students presented on their work using breadfruit flour in gluten free food products like cakes, pasta, bread, crackers, syrups, and sauces. They found that replacing 20% of traditional gluten free flour with breadfruit flour in baked goods increased product quality and consumer acceptability, and reduced the sugar content. They feel there is great potential for breadfruit flour in the world market of gluten free products.”
The summit also showcased the diversity of potential uses for the plant, with research into other products produced from the breadfruit tree such as latex and mosquito repellants now being conducted. Anticipating a future where the demand for breadfruit could make it an export crop, Dr. Gurr suggested that potential entrepreneurs begin thinking ahead in terms of packaging. “Simple value adding practices such as selling breadfruit that is peeled, cut in to cooking sized portions, and frozen in vacuum sealed packets, ready for cooking, can make storing and cooking breadfruit easier for the consumer,” he said. “If breadfruit availability and preparation is more convenient for the consumer, perhaps more people will eat breadfruit regularly rather than white rice. This can have positive health and economic benefits for the consumer, the farmer/producer and our community.”
ASCC-ACNR Director Areta shared that another Breadfruit Summit will take place in 2017, to be hosted by the Independent State of Samoa. “I would like to commend Papalii Dr. Failautusi Avegalio of the University of Hawaii and partners for organizing and hosting this year’s Summit,” he said. For detailed information on the full scope of the 2016 Breadfruit Summit, visit its official site at globalbreadfruitsummit.com.