FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas – In keeping with the country’s 50th anniversary celebration, Mrs. Ann Marie Davis, wife of the Prime Minister, on Friday, May 12 donated 50 breadfruit trees to Old Freetown Farm.
The farm was devastated during Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 when they lost one employee and hundreds of animals. Owner Sissel Johnson said two breadfruit trees survived the storm but were destroyed during the cleanup.
While addressing some of the attendees of Forum for Impact (FFI) Americas platform that was opened on Wednesday at Pelican Bay, Mrs. Davis said the planting of breadfruit trees has profound impact on our environment, society, and our economy.
Listing the benefits, she said the planting of these trees in tropical countries like Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Dominica, Hawaii, Haiti and now Grand Bahama have environmental benefits. They are, Mrs. Davis continued, strong and resilient and can withstand strong hurricane winds, reduce soil erosion, and promote water conservation.
Mentioning health benefits, Mrs. Davis said, “The tree has been named the choice ‘Tree That Feeds’ by the Tree That Feeds Foundation. The fruit is gluten free, rich in nutrients, just about 100 grams of breadfruit, approximately half a cup, provides 25 percent of the required daily allowance for fiber.” And she went on to list the other healthy advantages of breadfruit.
Describing it as “a nutritious goldmine” Mrs. Davis added that the use of breadfruit will be one of the shifts seen in the future.
Regular consumption of boiled breadfruit leaves lowers blood sugar levels, treats kidney damage, and lowers uric acid. Another benefit, the Prime Minister’s wife continued, is curing hepatitis, dental pain, and rashes.
Most importantly, she said, is looking at the need for food and food security. With the expansion of the economy of Grand Bahama and more visitors coming to the island, there will be more people to feed.
While these trees do not get as much attention as other major crops, they do supply an abundance of fruit with each tree yielding between 100 and 200 fruit annually for 50 years or more. It also provides a variety of foods for local and international communities.
“One tree can sustain a family of four for a decade or more,” said Mrs. Davis.
“Recent studies have shown that shift in climates will have little effect on breadfruit cultivation.”
She added, “Many countries combat food insecurity by importing foods like wheat or rice and that comes with a high environmental cost and high carbon footprint. With breadfruit however, these communities can produce food grown locally with a lower carbon footprint and lower environmental cost.”
As the breadfruit tree attracts certain wildlife, continued Mrs. Davis, this will help maintain a natural ecosystem and beautify the area, particularly in Grand Bahama.
“The economic benefits of planting breadfruit trees are wide and they create job opportunities, stimulate local economy through the production of breadfruit-based products, promoting agro-tourism in the region and making vodka,” she said.