New Crop Variety with Potential to end Hunger in the Tropics Introduced

Prof. Kanyari (left) and Schneider plant the breadfruit crop

Breadfruit, a staple crop grown in the Pacific Islands that has a permanent potential of being a solution to hunger in tropical regions such as Kenya, has been introduced at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

The crop, a tree of economic value, grows better on hot and wet weather and is capable of producing about 900kg of fruits per tree. It produces fruits two years after planting and thrice annually after it starts  production.

Breadfruit is a primary component of traditional agro-forestry systems in the Pacific where numerous varieties are grown. In Africa, the crop, which reaches optimum maturity in five years after it starts production, is only grown in the West African countries of; Benin, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria.

The Breadfruit

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.

According to Josh Schneider of the Global Breadfruit in the United States of America, the crop is  gluten – free and can be consumed at all stages of development, ripe as a fruit or mature as a vegetable, where it can replace conventional starches.

Many products can be obtained from the crop. These include; fruits, free flour to make fries, insect repellant, animal feed, 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.

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.

The University Council, Deputy Vice Chancellors, IBR Researchers and Global Breadfruit officials pose for a photo after the tree planting exercise

Also present were the Council Chairman; Prof. Paul Kanyari Njuki, Deputy Vice Chancellors Prof. Romanus Odhiambo (Academic Affairs), Prof. Victoria Ngumi (Administration), Prof. Benard Otoki Moirongo (Finance), Director, Institute of Biotechnology Research Prof. Benard Nyende, and the local coordinator of the Africa Breadfruit Initiative, and Senior Research Fellow in the same Institute, Dr Sylvester Anami, among others.

Breadfruit was first domesticated in the western Pacific and spread by humans throughout the region over the past 3,000 – 4,000 years.

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