By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU— In its bid to ensure food security in the country, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, is partnering the Global Breadfruit Institute, GBI, to develop improved varieties of breadfruit trees which can bear fruits within three years. This follows the discovery that the fruits could be used to make cake, finger rolls, noodles, chin-chin, salad, flour, fries, chocolate, just as it could be used as a substitute for potatoes in the production of meat-pies.
Already, the university has ordered 5000 seedlings of breadfruit from Germany, out of which 3000 that have already been received in the country for the project. Breadfruit trees grow wildly in the country and only the seeds are either cooked and eaten as food or fried and eaten as snacks, but new discoveries revealed that mature flesh of the fruits that could be used for most dishes where a potato-like consistency is desired.
According to the National Tropical Botanical Garden, the mature breadfruit with greenish-yellow skin is edible and great for desserts. “A ripe breadfruit is best used right away, although it can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days before using or stored in the freezer for later use,” it stated.
However, speaking at a one-day “Breadfruit Tree Workshop,” at the UNN, Thursday, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, Professor James Ogbonna, said that the university wanted to partner farmers in a bid to increase breadfruit cultivation in the country.
Ogbonna said, “We cherish this breadfruit project. It is very useful not only to Nigerians but Africa as a whole. We imported 5000 seedlings from Germany out of which only 3000 were shipped. They arrived Lagos but before they were cleared, most of them were no longer in good shape. Only 1,500 are good for planting but the remaining 2000 will soon be shipped.
“We expect the improved variety to mature in three years. Liberia, Benin Republic and Ghana have all keyed into the breadfruit project and we hope that Nigeria would be exporting breadfruit to other African countries in three years’ time.”
In his comments, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Professor Charles Igwe, said that breadfruit could have added value if the flour could be steered in hot water and swallowed like cassava, as most Nigerians cannot stay for a day without food which they can swallow.
President and Founder of First Avenue International, Ms Tacarra Birmingham, who spoke along with Alice Ajani and Mercy Elom asked Nigerians to grow breadfruit trees as they were veritable sources of protein.