Accessibility links

US Charity Donates 50,000 Breadfruit Trees to Combat Caribbean Hunger

A breadfruit (photo by Mary McLaughlin - Trees That Feed Foundation)

A breadfruit (photo by Mary McLaughlin - Trees That Feed Foundation)

The Trees That Feed Foundation (TIFF) says in the last five years it has donated and planted 50,000 food-bearing trees in Haiti and Jamaica to combat hunger.

A founding member of the U.S.-based TTFF, Mike McLaughlin, told VOA Thursday breadfruit trees produce a fruit substitute for flour, rice and potatoes, which are too expensive for many in the Caribbean to afford.

A breadfruit tree costs about $15 and takes three years to reach a point where it can feed an entire family. According to McLaughlin, however, that is too much money and too long a wait for a poor farmer earning on average $2 a day.

McLaughlin said every tree is a big deal, especially in Haiti, where he says a second tree means a cash crop for a farmer.

A fully grown tree can produce anywhere from 250 to 300 pieces of fruit per year, but the number depends on rainfall, according to McLaughlin. He says one piece of breadfruit can sell for as much as $1.

According to McLaughlin, TTFF continues to monitor the situation closely.

"We actually track this pretty exactly. I mean we know exactly where our trees are growing. Its round numbers - 40,000 to Jamaica, about 10,000 to Haiti, and there is a few more - You know, we are getting past the 50,000 already - trees of different varieties - so mostly breadfruit but not exclusively," said McLaughlin.

Breadfruit is round with green skin. When cooked, it tastes similar to unleavened bread.

McLaughlin says 80 percent of the world’s hungry reside in the tropics.