“This book is a report on the major effort made to establish a breadfruit germplasm collection at the University of the West Indies, at St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, and to describe each cultivar in the collection. Cultivars are from the Pacific islands and the Caribbean. This effort is highly commendable because breadfruit, among its various attributes, can be a valuable and staple source of food, yet information on this tree crop is sparse. This is not surprising as it takes several years to collect reliable data on tree crops, and breadfruit has been a neglected, underutilized crop.
“As with any other crop, certain breadfruit cultivars grow better under some environmental conditions, are more resistant to pests and diseases, and are more suitable for various types of processing, than other cultivars. The detailed descriptions of the morphology and other characteristics made by Laura Roberts- Nkrumah are essential steps for identifying and selecting suitable cultivars for the desired purpose – for use as fresh or frozen food, for processing into flour or chips, for soil conservation and so on.
“This book is useful in making any Ministry of Agriculture in the tropics, other agricultural-related organizations and institutions, and individuals aware of the diverse characteristics of breadfruit and thus select cultivars which are suitable for the intended purpose. In addition, if persons would like to have already-established cultivars identified, until DNA profiles are available, this book explains how relevant measurements can be taken, and observations made, which can then be submitted to the author for identification of the cultivar. The clearly described methods and the accompanying high-quality photographs greatly facilitate the collection of the data.”
—Phyllis L. Coates-Beckford, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology, the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
List of Plates
Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations
IntroductionBreadfruit: A neglected and underutilized crop
Potential for commercialization
Breadfruit Morphology, Environmental Requirements and Production SystemsVegetative morphology
Breadfruit Germplasm Diversity and History of Collection and Description
Breadfruit Collection and Description at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus
Breadfruit Germplasm Collection at the UWI: Rationale and objectives
Germplasm collection and the establishment and maintenance of the BGC
Description: Characterization and evaluation
Characterization and Evaluation of Caribbean and Pacific Accessions
Using Breadfruit Germplasm Descriptors
The approach to using the descriptors
Using descriptors for cultivar identification
Using descriptors for cultivar selection for production Tree descriptors
Food and nutrition security is a critical concern in most developing countries in the tropics in spite of the availability of a wide range of plant species used for food. One of the major challenges that has stymied the development of agriculture for contribution to food security in these countries is the paucity of information on most tropical food crop species. Underlying this constraint is very limited sustained research and documentation on crops that are considered of minor economic importance. Such crops are usually not traded internationally, and if they are, the quantities traded are insufficient for them to be significant foreign exchange earners. If they are sold on local markets, marketing arrangements are typically informal and their value chains underdeveloped. Such plant species are referred to as neglected and underutilized species (NUS).
One such NUS is breadfruit, a traditional carbohydrate staple in the Pacific and the Caribbean, which has declined considerably in importance while the consumption of imported food has increased. However, benefits such as its significant nutritional value, versatility in methods of preparation and high productivity substantiate breadfruit’s considerable potential as a crop for sustainable food and nutrition security. Other significant advantages include its complementarity with other crops in farming systems in the humid tropics and its contribution to environmental conservation through the soil cover and recycled nutrients provided by the tree canopy and leaf litter, respectively. In recognition of this potential and the increasing erosion of its genetic diversity, breadfruit was identified among those tropical food crop species for conservation for food and agriculture under the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. In reality, however, germplasm conservation is more likely to be achieved by increased demand for the crop and its by-products.
Except for the Pacific, where hundreds of cultivars exist, in all other breadfruit-producing regions fewer than ten and, most commonly, only one or two cultivars are grown or recognized. Within the Caribbean, a limited range of germplasm is considered a fundamental deficiency for addressing identified obstacles to commercialization for food security, such as the significant height of the trees, their seasonal bearing and the short shelf life of the fruits. Furthermore, the existing cultivars have not been described. To minimize these gaps, research has been undertaken at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, in collaboration with other organizations, to collect germplasm existing in Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Jamaica in the Caribbean, to introduce additional germplasm, and to characterize and evaluate the accessions.
The objective of this publication is to promote sustainable commercial production and increased utilization of breadfruit for food and nutrition security in the Caribbean and throughout tropical areas with similar environmental conditions by providing information on breadfruit germplasm at the UWI. This information covers the description of thirty-three named breadfruit accessions consisting of eleven accessions from the Caribbean and twenty-two from the breadfruit germplasm collection at the National Tropical Garden in Hawaii, United States, and of its close ancestor, chataigne, or breadnut, using characterization and evaluation descriptors to assist in cultivar identification and the selection of suitable cultivars for cultivation and utilization for various purposes.