Breadfruit, known as “ulu” in Hawaiian and “ma’afala” in Tongan, has many ways to be processed into value-added products. Recently, there has been increased interest in breadfruit processing as a means of value-adding and extending the shelf-life of the fruit. Processing can involve a range of techniques, including freezing, canning, dehydrating, and milling into flour. The potential benefits of processing breadfruit are numerous, including increased economic opportunities for farmers, increased access to nutritious food, and reduced food waste.
Given the importance of breadfruit to both Tongan and Hawaiian culture, it is not surprising that there has been interest in collaborating on breadfruit processing initiatives. In February of 2023, Pacific Farmer Organisations (PFO) members Nishi Trading (Nishi) and Hawaiʻi ʻUlu Cooperative (HUC) participated in a knowledge exchange in Tongatapu, Tonga through the FO-RI Pacific Breadfruit Project.
The two organisations have similar processing operations and product lines, and have faced similar challenges regarding growing the breadfruit value chain in their respective areas. A primary focus for both organisations is to develop economies of scale to reduce production costs and utilise the increasing consumer interest in breadfruit products. Learning exchanges related to processing revolve around processing capacity, marketing efforts, and scaling crop production. These types of learning exchanges are invaluable for organisations with similar values and the goal of increasing local food security and community wellbeing by prioritising breadfruit production and capacity building of small-scale diversified farmers.
Outcomes of this meeting include an increased collaboration on research and development related to breadfruit processing. Both Tonga and Hawaii have active research programs focused on breadfruit, and there is much that is gained from sharing data and working together on common goals. By collaborating on research, organisations can accelerate the development of new breadfruit products and improve the overall quality of their processing methods.
By sharing knowledge, potentially establishing joint processing facilities, and collaborating on research, Tonga and Hawaii can create a more efficient, sustainable, and profitable breadfruit industry. This exchange will benefit farmers, producers, and consumers alike, and strengthen the cultural ties that bind these two Pacific Island regions.
Learn more about Nishi Trading: https://www.nishitrading.com/
Learn more about Hawai’i ‘Ulu Cooperative: https://eatbreadfruit.com/