Breadfruit Project for Improving Nutrition in Haiti

About Breadfruit for Nutrition

Breadfruit Saplings at St Joseph Clinic
Breadfruit Saplings at St Joseph Clinic

Malnutrition is a serious health issue in Thomassique and its outlying villages. It amplifies the effect of diseases, and stunts physical and mental growth.

Breadfruit trees produce a nutritious, edible crop that has many health benefits in combating malnutrition in areas like Thomassique. The trees produce large carbohydrate-rich fruits which taste like potatoes. One breadfruit tree could provide a family with enough carbohydrates for an entire year.

The Beginnings of the Breadfruit Project

Breadfruit Tree at St. Joseph Clinic in Haiti
Breadfruit Tree at St. Joseph Clinic in Haiti

In 2011, Medical Missionaries Board Member Dr. Peter Dirr learned of the Trees That Feed Foundation and its efforts to introduce breadfruit trees in Haiti as a source of nutrition for the poor. These trees grow well in the Haiti climate and, after about a 4-year growth period, begin to yield lots of breadfruit which can be used in many Haitian recipes.

When students from O’Connell HS went to St. Joseph Clinic in Haiti with Dr. Dirr in 2012, the students worked with the Thomassique Youth Group to plant a few dozen breadfruit saplings that were provided by Trees That Feed. The Youth Group took responsibility for watering them daily. About half of the saplings survived and continue to provide breadfruit for the Clinic to this day (some of it has been used for Clinic meals, some given to patients).

The Breadfruit Project: Next Steps

Over the subsequent years, clinic leaders have been working with new volunteers, local work-study students, and local agronomists to explore how to best move forward. The hope is to develop a plan for this project that would benefit the people of Thomassique, while making it a sustainable business providing income for the Clinic.

They are exploring possibilities of partnering with other organizations and local farmers, including another organization that already runs a breadfruit project in the outlying village of Bouloume that has professional agronomists working with them.

While the details still need to be worked out, the focus is currently on propagating new saplings, some of which will be given to local farmers who will become part of the Breadfruit Project, while others will be sold to Trees That Feed for them to distribute to other organizations to support their Breadfruit projects.

The lead agronomist and the work-study students have been making great progress with the nursery to reap a new crop of saplings for the project, as you can see in these photos.

We look forward to keeping you updated on the progress of the Clinic’s Breadfruit Project in the coming months.

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