The Department of Agriculture (DA) is putting up nurseries for nutrient-rich starchy breadfruit or “Rimas” under a P36 million roadmap even as a tasty Rimas-flavored ice cream will be released to the market in Masbate in August.
Breadfruit may not be so popular in the Philippines.
But it shows high potential to become a rich source of nutrients for many Filipinos especially in poverty-stricken regions, an ingredient for pharmaceutical products, and a raw material for industrial products.
There are already available export markets for canned breadfruit. These are in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) is funding the development breadfruit, interchangeably used with Rimas, for food and other products.
“Rimas is a neglected crop. We’re working on a roadmap because it can be a major crop for the Philippines. ,” said BAR Assistant Director Teodoro S. Solsoloy.
Food security and nutritional security prompt government to pursue its research and development.
“Breadfruit has a high starch content which explains why it is a staple of some people in Bicol Region and is their source of energy. We’re also exploring other applications because researches show it can have multiple uses,” said BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.
DA and the High Value Crops Development Program are co-funding the roadmap.
Roadmap components are identification in 16 regions of planting materials for sustainable production, P16 million; enhancing farmers’ capability to propagate breadfruit, P5 million; post harvest technologies, P7.5 million; and establishment of 37 nurseries in regions, P7.4 million.
While planning is still on-going, a breadfruit product, the Rimas ice cream, is set to be released to the Masbate market in the third quarter of this year.
“We thought at once that Rimas is a good flavor for ice cream because of its fine texture. It has good consistency with milk. It also looks very nice because of its pure whiteness just like that of guyabano,“ said DA-Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC) Manager Luz R. Marcelino.
BIARC’s food technology experts are further refining the taste, although many visitors at the BAR Techno Forum in August 2012 already showed delight for it.
“We’re trying to improve on coagulation (ice cream thickening) and maybe reduce sweetness in our formulation,” Marcelino said.
But all the ice cream flavors virtually have Rimas as the major flavor taking up 80 percent of the mixture.
The project, Rimas Biodiversity Research, Conservation, and Propagation in Bicol (RBR-CPB), was funded by BAR by P1 million.
BIARC is also open to giving the technology to cooperatives.
For the packaging, it is seeking an assistance from the Department of Science and Technology. Cost is around P200,000 just for packaging to be very attractive.
“We have many products in the pipeline for Rimas, but the problem is the availability of fund,” she said.
BIARC initially just rented the ice cream-making machine, but it eventually needs to purchase it. The machine costs around P50,000 to P100,000.
DOST also earlier had a project on Rimas which determined the comparability of breadfruit flour with all-purpose flour. Rimas was found out to have greater solubility, higher water absorption, greater tendency for gelation and emulsification, and has general acceptability.
Government is compelled to develop processing and value adding techniques for breadfruit if the fruit has to play a role in enhancing the country’s food security. Fruits should be processed as these are perishable after one to three days after harvest.
Rimas is planted on an expansive 1,200 hectares in the Bicol Region. But it is grown more as a backyard tree rather than a plantation-type crop grown intensively and productively in farms.
BIARC is exploring tissue culture for mass propagation of Rimas seedlings. One can also propagate Rimas plants through runners.
The Bicol research center is also developing breadfruit for chips, cookies, flour-based foods, candy, and as flavoring for leche flan. It plans to sell these products in supermarkets.
“We also want to come up with instant noodles made from Rimas. Definitely, it will have an advantage over what we have in the market because it is more nutritious,” said Marcelino.
Like other staple crops, breadfruit is carbohydrates-rich. It has low levels of protein and fat and a moderate glycemic index.
Nutrition-wise, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) tells this of breadfruit:
It is a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium with small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron.”
Breadfruit has varieties that contain small amounts of folic acid.
“Yellow-fleshed varieties can be a good source of provitamin A carotenoids. The seeds are edible and can be boiled, roasted, or ground into meal. They resemble chestnuts in flavor and texture. They are a good source of protein and minerals,” said the NTBG.
It is known to have high amount of dietary fiber, potassium, and is a good source of vitamin B3, C, iron, and thiamine. It contains favorable amount of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Its leaves can be used for tea believed to reduce blood pressure and control diabetes.
The Philippine Medicinal Plants report indicated it has papayotin, enzyme, and artocarpin, and its bark is used for wound healing. A bark decoction is a cure in dysentery.
Its leaves are used to relieve pain in the Carribean and the leaf decoction is used for hypertension in Jamaican folk medicine.
A phytochemical study further showed that breadfruit, scientifically called Artocarpus altilis, has a high degree of purity, and its starch can be turned into products that need long heating process.
“Its excellent digestibility might be advantageous for medical and food use. Percent recoveries of amino acid, fatty acid, and carbohydrates content showed 72.5 percent, 68.2 percent, and 81.4 percent,” said Stuartxchange.
A study also showed cytoprotective components—Beta sitosterol ( known to block multiplication of leukemia cells). It has six flavonoids that could have many medicinal applications.
Masbate is the ideal production area for Rimas ice cream because Masbate also has carabao’s milk and cheese (both ice cream ingredients).
It’s also ideally the market because it is the area in the Bicol Region that has a hotter climate, so the clamor for cold products. Masbate has its own regional carabao breeding center meant to support carabao dairy production.
With the breadfruit food production plan, government aims to reduce poverty in the Bicol region. After all, Region 5 has been identified by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute as number one in malnutrition particularly Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Sur.
The BIARC-BAR project also involves biodiversity study of Rimas in Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines provinces, and Catanduanes and will conserve the region’s breadfruit germplasm.
Marcelino said BIARC is pushing for “Commodity by Station.” Under this, Masbate will likely promote Rimas ice cream as its top product.
“Without a focus on a commodity, the products are not attracting attention,” she said.
The grand breadfruit roadmap also involves postharvest technologies for packaging, handling, drying, transport, and processing of breadfruit.
In charge here are Bureau of Plant Industry, state universities and colleges (SUC), and Philippine Center for Postharvest Devt. and Mechanization . The post harvest project also involves study on the extension of shelf life for the fruit.
Implementing agencies for the roadmap are regional integrated agriculture research centers or RIARC of Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, MIMAROPA, Bicol, western, central, and eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao, and Caraga.
The University of the Philippines-Los Banos, Marinduque State University, and University of Southern Mindanao.
Breadfruit, scientifically known as Artocarpus altilis, is called such as it smells like fresh baked bread when baked or roasted. Artos is a Greek word artos for bread, and karpos means fruit. Altilis means fat.
It is native to New Guinea. Yet breadfruit’s usefulness in the Pacific has been traced for more than 3,000 years as an important staple and part of traditional agroforestry systems, according to the NTBG.
From New Guinea, breadfruit later spread to Oceania, Melanesia (South Pacific which are north, northeast of Australia including Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji), Micronesia (islands of Caroline, Gilbert, Marshall, Wake, Mariana, and Nauru), and Polynesia (East Pacific including Hawaii, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Rotuma).
Breadfruits are among the world’s highest-yielding plants at 150 to 200 or more fruits per season. Planting requires low labor. It grows well in hilly areas.
Difference from camansi
Breadnut (camansi), while being deemed as the seeded form of breadfruit, is really a different species from Rimas, according to the NTBG. Breadnut, Artocarpus camansi, is an ancestor of breadfruit. Breadfruit developed distinctly from it for thousands of years.
The NTBG reported that breadfruit is also used as construction material, medicine, glue, insect repellent, and animal feed. Its tree bears fruit at three to five years and stays productive for many decades.
“The ‘tree of bread’ has the potential to play a significant role in alleviating hunger in the tropics,” said NTBG.
Its wood can be used for house construction as it resists termite. It has fiber that can be used for clothing. The latex of breadfruit is also best used for boat caulking (joints sealing).
With its milky flesh, it can also be used as emollient or moisturizer, according to Stuartxchange.
The government can take advantage of breadfruit plantation in order to protect its watersheds and forests.
“Cultivating breadfruit trees protects watersheds; replacing slash-and-burn agriculture and field cropping with a permanent tree cover.”
Breadfruit is cooked in many ways in different countries.
It is used as curry mixed with coconut milk and spices in Sri Lanka; fried as a delicacy in Karnataka; and eaten as a rice substitute where it is either boiled or grilled or eaten as a dessert when boiled in coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon in Seychelles.
In Puerto Rico, it is eaten boiled with salted codfish, mashed with seasoned meat, fried, and eaten as a dessert called flan de pana or breadfruit custard.
Breadfruit’s seeds are pureed into baby food in Ghana.
Melody Mendoza Aguiba
Mendoza Aguiba & Co
Product & Cause Media Campaigner
Mobile Phones: 0920-715-7186, 0916-266-6604
For any questions, please call Ms. Luz Marcelino, 0917-620-0269, for interview requests, 0916-266-6604