News Releases

UWI puts breadfruit back on the table

For Release Upon Receipt - July 22, 2015

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. July 21, 2015– Once again, The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine has a lot more cooking than academia. At the International Breadfruit Conference 2015, the campus brought together stakeholders from diverse nations to share knowledge about breadfruit geared towards bolstering food and nutrition security in the Caribbean and other breadfruit production regions and helping to end world hunger. This conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad from July 6 to 9, culminated in a Breadfruit Exhibition and Festival at the St. Augustine campus last Friday, July 10, displaying innovations in breadfruit utilisation ranging from gluten-free breadfruit flour to chataigne-shredding machines. 

The conference advocated an increase the use of this affordable and nutritious staple in order to help meet nutrition targets and increase food security in the Caribbean in a sustainable way. It is envisioned that in the long term, the effects can be far-reaching. The commercialization of breadfruit can help reduce the incidence of chronic, debilitating conditions such as obesity and its related diseases. Widespread adoption of this crop and its high-protein relative, chataigne, could improve our economic standing by improving the balance of trade – decreasing imports and increasing domestic consumption of local produce. Indeed, the collective findings are aimed at very practical applications of research to the real-world crisis of hunger within our societies today. As such, this conference is emblematic of UWI’s commitment not only to value knowledge, but also to engage in relevant outreach – to take stock of the realities confronting our Caribbean people and use research to have a real impact on affirming and transforming our communities. 

Conference Co-Convener, Dr. Laura Roberts Nkrumah, Senior Lecturer in Crop Science in The UWI’s Department of Food Production,  indicated that the objectives  of the conference which aimed to  realise the potential of breadfruit to contribute to food security, included: encouraging entrepreneurial activities centred on breadfruit and chataigne; providing a forum for the exchange of information on the industry by all stakeholders; launching an international breadfruit network; and presenting displays of relevant research and product utilization. These objectives were achieved by the conference. 

Breadfruit is an affordable, healthy option that can be cooked like potatoes, ground and used like flour, and turned into beer and spirits or other value-added products like snacks and chips. Its diverse uses range from various food products, to animal feed and to being employed for industrial purposes. Stakeholders around the world have taken an old favourite and turned it into a new resource. The propelling question of food and nutrition security is before us and The UWI has stepped up and brought the surprisingly versatile breadfruit to the proverbial table. By all indications, placing breadfruit back on the table it is a worthy and compelling response. 

Overall, the International Breadfruit Conference 2015 was well-attended by over 114 stakeholders from diverse countries including various Caribbean nations, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Malaysia, Fiji, Samoa, The USA, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Suriname. The Exhibition and Festival attracted over 400 persons locally who were able to sample breadfruit ice cream, punch, liquer and sparkling wine, breadfruit chips dipped in chocolate; breadfruit cheese cake, fruit cake, anchar and kurma and naturally, the ever popular “oil down”. Over 40 exhibitors from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries participated. Food Production Minister, The Honourable Devant Maharaj was among the exhibition’s patrons and where his ministry was among the exhibitors. 

Conference Feature speakers included Professor Fitzroy Henry, Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the University of Technology in Jamaica, and Dr. Diane Ragone, Director of the Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii. 

Professor Henry emphasized the relevance and urgency of the conference in that obesity is the most important underlying cause of death in the Caribbean while $US 4.7 billion dollars are spent in the Caribbean on food imports annually. Dr. Ragone pointed out that the world has 1 billion hungry people, 2 billion obese people, and 1 billion people in addition with hidden hunger that is, consuming calories without the proper micro-nutrients of a balanced diet.




About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:  

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)