US charity donates 50,000 breadfruit trees

A United States charity says it has donated and planted 50,000 food-bearing trees in Haiti and Jamaica to help combat hunger.

The Northfield, Illinois-based Trees That Feed Foundation (TIFF) said that the 50,000th tree donated by TTFF is a breadfruit tree planted by students as part of a school garden project in St. Michel de l’ Attalaye, Haiti.

“This tree is a great milestone as we work toward a sustainable food supply in Haiti, with breadfruit as a major crop,” said Timote Georges, executive director, Smallholder Farmers Alliance, the organization responsible for the school garden.

“We are grateful to the Trees That Feed Foundation for their work during the last five years in making breadfruit trees available throughout Haiti,” he added.

Mary McLaughlin, a TTFF founder and current chief executive, said tree crops are an answer to world food concerns.

“Tree crops are a sustainable food source for tropical countries and have similar nutritional qualities to grains,” she said. “They require less input of labor, agro chemicals, fertilizers and space.

“They also restore ecological balance to land damaged by slash-and-burn farming methods, commercial logging, or neglect,” she added.

McLaughlin said about 80 percent of the world’s hungry reside in the tropics, “and government officials in the Caribbean are realizing breadfruit’s potential to feed their populations.”

Since its founding in 2008, McLaughlin said TTFF has achieved meaningful humanitarian success with ongoing initiatives to plant breadfruit trees in Haiti and Jamaica.

When cooked, she said breadfruit tastes similar to unleavened bread, and can serve as a substitute for flour, rice or potatoes.

McLaughlin said one breadfruit easily satisfies the carbohydrate portion of a meal for a family of four. A mature tree can produce up to a half ton of fruit per year, she said.

TTFF works with governments and not-for-profit organizations in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa to plant selected species of food-bearing trees.

McLaughlin said a US$15 tree can feed a family for decades.