JIS News

The University of the West Indies (UWI) will be undertaking research to determine the uses and economic potential of the breadfruit.
The research will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, the Northern Caribbean University and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), which has done extensive fieldwork on the fruit.
Laura Roberts-Nkrumah, researcher in the Department of Food Production at the UWI’s St. Augustine campus in Trinidad, who will be undertaking the study, attended the recently held Bath Breadfruit Festival in St. Thomas, where she got a first-hand look at consumption patterns and methods of utilization.
She says that in addition to observing the uses of the fruit, the aim is to ascertain the impact of the festival and the desire of young people to continue traditional uses.
Mrs. Roberts-Nkrumah, who has been researching breadfruit throughout the region for the last 16 years, tells JIS News that she is impressed with a wide range of dishes and products, which highlights the versatility of the fruit.
“I’ve seen a fairly wide range of different uses. What I’m interested in finding out is whether the recipes are typical of what people use in Bath or in the wider Jamaican community or whether they are just for display to show the potential of breadfruit,” she says.
She points out that while breadfruit festivals are held in several countries across the region including Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the exhibits in Bath “were taking on a whole new spectrum”.
“I find it interesting that people are now beginning to use the ripe breadfruit in cakes and a lot of the desert-type dishes whereas traditionally we do not really use the ripe breadfruit,” she states.
She notes that the various islands have peculiar preferences. “In Jamaica and in St. Vincent, people roast breadfruit. In Trinidad and Tobago and in Grenada, the favourite way is ‘oil down’, that is steamed in coconut milk, while in the Leewards, they like it boiled,” she informs.
According to the researcher, “we are looking forward to the day when people are going to be cultivating breadfruit more commercially to suit the needs of the persons, who use it in the various ways and the research is ultimately geared toward that end”.
Ainsley Henriques, a member of Bath Community Council and Heritage Tours, tells JIS News that the idea of a festival was conceived in 1999 as a means of highlighting the varieties of breadfruit and the different ways the fruit can be used, and the various cultural activities in the parish.
“The festival serves to heighten the need to transfer a primarily folklore experience into a commercial activity,” he adds. “There are all sorts of ways the breadfruit can be used even turned into a flour, which can then be used for bread, baking and so many other uses, so this presents a good challenge to other agencies to help the country make the transformation,” he points out.
Exhibitor Miranda Brown-Allen, popularly called ‘Esmie’, who has won several medals and certificates from the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation for creativity with breadfruit, tells JIS News that she has been attending the festival since its inception. “I love to do all the creative things with breadfruit and each time I try something and people like it, I try something else,” she says. On display at her booth was breadfruit wine, patty, gizzada, pudding, cake, punch and what she says is the crowd pleaser, the breadfruit booster. “The booster is the strong one. everything I have here is made from the breadfruit,” she adds.
State Minister for Housing, Transport, Water and Works and Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Thomas, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, who opened the festival, challenged the residents and organizers of the annual event, to work together to ensure its continued success.
“Bath breadfruit festival is the original breadfruit festival and since we have started it others are now recognizing the value of it and hosting their own,” he points out.
He notes that the annual festival, along with planned infrastructure development in the parish, the resuscitation of the Botanical gardens and the building of a 340-room hotel for which ground will soon be broken, will see St. Thomas on the path to prosperity.