Samoa Breadfruit Cultivar Distributed Worldwide

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Government receives royalties from sharing ma‘afala trees

By Siala Lova

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 24, 2014) – "We now have the means to produce and distribute millions of breadfruit trees for tree planting projects in the tropics, where hunger and lack of food sustainability are prevalent."

The government has received US$12,240 (T$29,000) from the sales of a Samoan breadfruit cultivar as a result of a landmark benefit-sharing agreement entered into six years ago.

The cheque was presented by Dr Diane Ragone, the Director of the Hawaii-based Breadfruit Institute of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (N.T.B.G) to the Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo this week.

The money is the result of two years of tree sales.

"At this critical time of global food security issues, these exciting partnerships now make it possible for the Breadfruit Institute to make significant advances in promoting the cultivation and use of breadfruit," said Dr Ragone.

"We now have the means to produce and distribute millions of breadfruit trees for tree planting projects in the tropics, where hunger and lack of food sustainability are prevalent.

"Since 2009, Ma’afala trees have been distributed to 27 countries, including Haiti, Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Myanmar."

In 2008, N.T.B.G entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government of Samoa that the non-profit N.T.B.G is designated as Samoa’s agent to distribute Samoan breadfruit varieties globally through Cultivaris/Global Breadfruit, a horticultural partner with growing facilities in California, Europe, and Central America.

For each tree sold, N.T.B.G receives a royalty and, in turn, gives 50per cent of that royalty to the Samoan government.

Through the benefit sharing agreement these funds help support the work of the Ministry of Agriculture in research and development of new crops and new varieties for the Samoan people.

It will also help villages to develop breadfruit and other botanical collections and educate others about traditional knowledge and culture of the Samoan people.

The foundation for the agreement stems back to the 1980s when Dr Ragone spent years of collecting breadfruit varieties throughout the tropical Pacific.

N.T.B.G established a comprehensive collection of more than 120 varieties at its Maui garden in 1989.

In order to put greater emphasis on the conservation and study of this important food crop, N.T.B.G formed its Breadfruit Institute in 2003 with Dr Ragone at the helm.

After conducting a number of studies in nutrition and seasonality, the Institute began collaborating with Dr Susan Murch, at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, an expert in in vitro micropropagation.

Breadfruit is generally propagated vegetatively, from root shoots. Dr Murch’s tissue culture work thus far has put two Samoan varieties, Ma‘afala and ‘Ulu fiti, into mass production by Cultivaris. In addition to those originating in Samoa, Dr

Murch has had success with several other varieties from the Pacific.

Dr Ragone also presented a flat of 60 micro-propagated plants of the Aveloloa variety to the Ministry of Agriculture upon arrival at Fagali’i Airport, as part of the institute’s "Plant a Tree of Life" project.

"When I first began my work on collecting and documenting breadfruit diversity in 1985, while a graduate research assistant at USP Alafua, one of my long-term goals was to conserve traditional varieties. The Aveloloa is a gift to Samoa, and represents the first return of a culturally important, indigenous variety of breadfruit to its home country," Dr Ragone said.

Part of Dr Ragone’s visit to Samoa also included discussions with the Chief Executive Officer of the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, Tilafono David Hunter, concerning their breadfruit flour as well as a visit to the Women in

Business and Development (WIBD) site at Nu’u.

Today, she will give a presentation at the National University of Samoa on "The Conservation and Use of Breadfruit - An Old Crop with a New Future" at 12p.m. and members of the public who are interested are invited to attend.

National Tropical Botanical Garden a not-for-profit, non-governmental institution with nearly 2,000 acres of gardens and preserves in Hawai‘i and Florida. Its mission is to enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions.

NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute, promotes the conservation and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation. NTBG is supported primarily through donations and grants.

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