Breadfruit getting its deserved attention

Dear Editor,
The headline got my attention: “Massive coffee, breadfruit production on the cards for Region One.” As a matter of fact, it got me engrossed, and why? Well, it’s because of “Breadfruit.” I cannot understand why our breadfruit has remained uncelebrated for so long, and for now, in this little letter, I will celebrate it.
I am so happy that President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has touted plans to restart the large-scale production of coffee and other high-value crops such as breadfruit (but for now, I will leave out ‘coffee,’ even though I am equally elated with it, as I am with the ‘breadfruit’).
I noticed that the President is quite excited, stating (to residents of Waramuri, Region One, (Barima-Waini) that “We want to do some major crops here that are high-valued and that will put you back on the regional map.” He detailed that his government would support villagers with local breadfruit production to meet the demands of local and regional markets.
And why not? The facts, fully accessible, regarding breadfruit, should make us want to really go after it.
It is a staple food in many tropical regions. Most breadfruit varieties produce fruit throughout the year, and both ripe and unripe fruit have culinary uses. The unripe breadfruit is cooked before consumption. Before being eaten, the fruit is roasted, baked, fried, or boiled. When cooked, the taste of moderately ripe breadfruit is described as potato-like, or similar to freshly baked bread. Its versatility is shocking-curried, fried, boiled, baked, roasted and we can go on and on.
On the nutritional side, breadfruit is not only a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and protein, but it also contains substantial amounts of micronutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, and B3.
Then it comes in high proliferation, where one breadfruit tree can produce as many as 200 kilograms (450lbs) each season. So, the work will be in the area of the preservation of harvested fruit. We must not waste any at all. I have read that in some places, that the traditional preservation technique is to bury peeled and washed fruits in a leaf-lined pit where they ferment over several weeks and produce a sour, sticky paste. So stored, the product may endure a year or more, and some pits are reported to have produced edible contents more than 20 years later.
What I do propose is that we find ways to market and preserve the breadfruit.
The word from President Ali is that “… we want to replant 5,000 breadfruit plants in the region; so that we can become an important supplier of breadfruit for the country. We are going to move into this production because these are crops that have value on the regional market.” He added “I think there is tremendous potential in this region and we want to now move to another phase of development where we create opportunities; where we invest in opportunities for the future, where more of the women in our society can earn, more young people can enter forms of entrepreneurship and agriculture is a main aspect of that.”
Editor, what I am so pleased about is that Budget 2024 is becoming more and more of a reality. Back in January 2024, some $527.4 million was allocated to increase opportunities for agro-processors, farmers, and women, and we are witnessing this yet again. I recall the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh, stating that “Guyana is promoting the growth of the agro-processing industry, including value-chain development and market expansion for its produce and products.”

Hargesh B Singh