Saturday, 13 October 2007

Drying Breadfruit in the Marshall Islands

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This past summer CTI volunteer and St. Thomas engineering professor, Camille George,was invited to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) by their Ministry of Natural Resources and Development to see if breadfruit, a plentiful food resource, could be dried and ground into flour. Food security and nutrition are two of the most pressing issues for these remote islands, located near the International Date Line and the equator. Mass relocations and financial subsidies after the USA’s nuclear testing program have resulted in a largely sedentary population severed from their traditional culture and currently dependent on imported American food. Obesity in the adult population is over 50% and diabetes is epidemic.

There is a high level of interest in the successful introduction of the harvesting and drying of excess breadfruit, which may also have a substantial social impact. Breadfruit was successfully shredded using the Tommie shredder developed by University of St. Thomas (UST) students, sun dried, and ground into flour using the Omega IV grinder developed by Compatible Technology International. The two machines were mounted on a single production stand and are currently being transported to different Marshallese islands as a first introduction of the technology. At this time a partnership is forming between UST, CTI, the Breadfruit Institute of Hawaii, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to explore opportunities to use breadfruit commercially and to help strengthen food security.

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