Trees That Feed Foundation donates 250 saplings to The Bahamas
Several Bahamian farmers have benefited from a partnership between the Trees That Feed Foundation and the Bahamian Government’s Department of Forestry, after 250 Jamaican-grown yellow-heart breadfruit saplings were recently shipped to The Bahamas to aid reforestation as well as agricultural efforts.
The non-profit American-based foundation, which was founded and operated by Jamaican-born couple Mike and Mary McLaughlin, explained that the forestry department reached out a year ago, seeking help from the foundation, which states that its mission is to plant trees to feed people, create jobs and benefit the environment.
"The reception so far has been excellent as they are very excited. There are several large farmers that have gotten trees and they are going to plant more and introduce it as a crop. The forestry department wants to reforest public spaces, so they are going to be putting up fruit trees in public areas," Mike McLaughlin told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview recently.
The saplings, which are six months old and currently only a few inches tall, are expected to grow and produce a yield of approximately 200 breadfruits over the next few years.
According to Mr McLaughlin, the saplings in this case were supplied and propagated from Portland farmer Alfred McLean and were later sent to a nursery in Denbigh, Clarendon, where they were ‘hardened’ by chief propagation officer at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Joseph Johnson, who was also responsible for handling the export of the saplings.
In a press release from the foundation, forestry officer with the Bahamian Ministry of Environment and Housing, Danielle Haneck, noted that the initial distribution of the breadfruit trees from Jamaicais "a milestone for our joint efforts in reducing hunger and food dependence". She added that the ministry is excited to continue working with the foundation as well as Jamaica’s own agriculture ministry on similar projects.
"We know the potential of breadfruit and collaboration amongst Caribbean nations to increase food security within the islands," said Mrs McLaughlin. "This partnership will serve as a model and we are eager for it to grow."
When asked why the decision was taken to send breadfruit trees, Mr McLaughlin said it is one of the primary sources of dietary fibre and starch.
"Breadfruit is more filling, it has more calories but more nutrition and less sugar; and so when you eat a mango, that’s delicious and all, but you can’t eat a mango for your main meal. Breadfruit has the bulk of fibre and calories needed, it also has a medium glycemic index so the body can digest it easily and so it fills your tummy," he stated.
Mr McLaughlin stated that this project also aided in job creation locally, although it was on a small scale, but that there is room for more growth.
"The farmer who is propagating the trees, he has hired like six people. Now, other people [are] growing trees, so farmers [are] going to have crops to sell," he said. "We see them hiring people for fruit picking, fruit goes to processors, there’s going to be supermarkets and bakeries involved as you now have processed breadfruit products coming in. "We see this as feeding Jamaica, but in the process jobs are created."