Breadfruit advocates want more government help to grow the farm

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Farmers, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs from across the Pacific came together to discuss the benefits of crops like breadfruit that could help address food security and sustainability concerns.

The National Tropic Breadfruit Institute co-hosted the 2022 Global Breadfruit Summit at the Hawaii Convention Center on Tuesday.

Breadfruit Baking Flour, Hummus, Whiskey and Pasta were among the many products featured at the Summit.

“The products you can make with ulu are endless,” said John Cadman, owner and operator of Pono Pies and Maui Breadfruit Company. “There are so many things, it’s just amazing.”

Cadman created Pono Pies, which are made with breadfruit grown on Maui.

He said chefs are always looking for healthy options that are reliably grown in Hawaii.

“Until we’ve had enough of it [breadfruit] Many establishments are reluctant to put it on their menus,” said Cadman. “So we definitely need to plant more trees and have a larger acreage, that would be good.”

Hawaii schools are using more local produce and adopting a farm-to-cafeteria approach.

But the pandemic underscored Hawaii’s reliance on tourism. Food and agriculture experts said the state needs to invest more in other industries.

“If the Hawaii Tourism Board gave me $20 million to tell people to stay away from Hawaii, they would still come,” said M Kalani Souza, director of the Olohana Foundation.

This dilemma is well known throughout the Pacific.

King Tuaine Vaeruarangi Ariki of Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands, attended the summit.

The pandemic reminded this small nation that tourism is not a sustainable industry.

“So we need to look for other means, and of course Ulu would be an option,” Ariki said. “And of course we would add other things like fish, lots of resources, [there’s] always enough of it.”

“So, we already have it, but it’s just about making it an economical process for us.”

A new food dispensary being built on Kauai is the kind of project these groups want more of.

“To develop more breadfruit and other locally grown crops in a sustainable way that sustains the land, the people, and the economy,” said NTBI Institute Director Dr. Diane Ragone.

The Ulu is just one example of the growing effort to return our economy to its roots.

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