Breadfruit – Stabroek News
It may have occurred to our local Ministry of Agriculture that reputable international food safety monitoring sources continue to identify breadfruit as a strategically important food source, moreover , in light of the food security challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. and its impact on global food production.
Breadfruit is known to be high in complex carbohydrates, low in fat and cholesterol, and significantly gluten-free. It has a moderate glycemic shock compared to white potato, white rice and white bread. It’s no wonder that, both here in the Caribbean and in North America and Europe, breadfruit seems to be growing in popularity.
Here in the Caribbean, two member nations of the Community, Barbados and Saint Lucia, seem to have been alerted to what appears to be a new international breadfruit craze. In the case of Barbados, authorities say they have already passed on to farmers on the island information they have received about demand in North America for the breadfruit and beyond. Farmers in Barbados were alerted to an order from Canada and challenged to fulfill it.
Saint Lucia, which first exported breadfruit to the United States in 2018, reportedly follows increased demand for the product in North America and is looking to expand production to take advantage of the current wave of demand for the product. here.
Where, one might wonder, is Guyana in all of this? Guyana has a much larger agricultural sector than Barbados or Saint Lucia and should be much better placed to meet external market demand. Where then is the local mechanism to gather this information and then work strategically with local farmers to help secure a slice of this international market?
It is no secret that Guyana, given the size of its agricultural sector, is infinitely better placed than any other CARICOM country to grow and export breadfruit. Herein lies the opportunity to consolidate regional breadfruit shipments for export to Europe, North America and other international markets for which the region should collectively compete.
Breadfruit, in addition to being far from being unpopular locally, has been acclaimed for its nutritional qualities. That said, the level of its local consumption is not high enough to leave any leeway to derive a limited but potentially profitable advantage from the international market.
The view has been repeatedly expressed that setting aside its two traditional “bread and butter” agricultural products, sugar and rice, Guyana has, over the years, done nothing even remotely resembling to a diligent effort to seek out substantial (not necessarily huge) international markets for other agricultural products, the sale of which can serve to increase the incomes of local farmers. Indeed, the Department of Agriculture has not historically demonstrated its ability to aggressively pursue international markets for agricultural products grown here in Guyana, while the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC), a department of Ministry of Agriculture and the designated entity for the promotion of locally produced agricultural products, both at home and abroad, has always been seriously under-equipped to do so effectively.
Here, it is not too early to wonder whether the official preoccupation with the country’s pursuit of the coveted status of an oil state is not running parallel to the diminishing of our position as a producer and exporter of foodstuffs. Indeed, the evidence that much of the governance infrastructure has been quickly engaged to stimulate the “oil and gas economy” leaves one wondering if we are not so far from becoming a net importer of food.
At the recent Caribbean Community Heads of Government meeting in Belize, it emerged that President Irfaan Ali had been officially designated as the “leader” on regional food security. The president, it must be said, is invited to knock on a decidedly sticky wicket. His anointing at a time when, perhaps more than ever in the region’s recent history, food security has become a matter of the utmost urgency. Whether Guyana, given what are known to be its current concerns, is focused enough to play the role of “leader” in steering the Caribbean to a place of food security is by no means a question absurd to raise. Leading the Caribbean to a place of food security that allows it to take greater strides forward in pursuit of a developmental condition requires focused and focused leadership and as unpleasant as that may be, the question simply needs to be asked. . Is Guyana ideally placed to provide this leadership at this time?