Fiji Time: 10:35 PM on Thursday 26 November

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Farmers plant trees

Shayal Devi
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A TOTAL of 1617 breadfruit trees on 12.2hectares of land were planted by 31 participating farmers in February this year as part of a nursery establishment program.

And according to the breadfruit technical officer from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's centre for Pacific crops and trees, Kaitu Erasito, a further 1500 trees in the nursery are ready for distribution to farmers.

"There has been overwhelming interest on the part of farmers and our focus has been on more commercially-oriented farmers," he said.

Mr Erasito also said the development of commercial orchard management systems was continuing.

"The estimated fresh export market is approaching 1000 tonnes in New Zealand and Australia.

"The United States market can realistically be developed over the next decade with Free on Board export earnings of around $3million and farm income of around $1.5m."

Mr Erasito also said the planting projections for the completion of stage one of the Pacific Breadfruit Project was expected to finish towards the end of 2015.

"There will be around 10,000 trees involving 50 commercial breadfruit farmers.

"Conservatively estimated at full production, these trees are likely to produce around 700 tonnes of marketable fruit.

"As for the returns to farmers growing breadfruit as an orchard crop, the data is being generated to derive real gross margins for breadfruit that has not previously been grown as an orchard crop.

"Also, $40 per day is our provisional indicative estimate of the returns to family labour from growing breadfruit as an orchard crop.

"Since it takes three to four years for breadfruit to come into full production, the intercropping of short-term crops like pineapples and root crops is seen as necessary to maintain the long-term interest of farmers."

According to Mr Erasito, the orchards established through the Pacific Breadfruit Project stage one would lay the initial foundation for a commercial breadfruit industry.

"This needs to build on through a consolidation along the entire value chain consisting of planting material selection, propagation and distribution of a private nursery development, orchard management practices, post-harvest handling and processing."

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