A FOUR-year pilot project called "Developing commercial breadfruit production systems for the Pacific Islands" in progress in Fiji is testing the viability of growing breadfruit as a commercial crop.
"The aim is to assist farmers to treat breadfruit as an agricultural commodity for export, not just as a backyard crop that grows everywhere," said Valerie Saena Tuia, officer in charge of Genetic Resources at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT).
Ms Tuia said the project aimed to enhance livelihoods through the development of an effective and sustainable breadfruit supply chain at the commercial level.
The project will initially focus on Fiji; its first stage will address the three major constraints to commercial production by working to establish viable small-holder orchard production systems, ensure the ready availability of market preferred planting material that allows for year-round production, and implement best practice post-harvest handling for fresh exports.
The second stage will deal with commercial processing of the breadfruit.
The role of CePaCT in the project is to develop a rapid multiplication system for breadfruit in tissue culture using a bioreactor system reported to work well with commercial propagation of breadfruit and other crops to supply planting material to farmers.
A bioreactor system is a temporary immersed tilting rocker apparatus initially developed for biotechnological production of substances such as antibodies and pharmaceutical that has been adapted for use in plant propagation systems provided with the necessary nutrients to boost plant growth.
An SPC statement said the system improved plant material quality and growth through better aeration of the roots, better survival of plants in the screenhouse and better establishment in the field as compared to plants produced through the normal semi-solid tissue culture system using glass tubes or bottles.