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Norwich Breadfruit highly rated in Jamaica and internationally

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The Norwich breadfruit in Portland, Jamaica

By Garvin Davis

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Norwich, Portland, a tiny coastal district located five minutes outside the parish capital of Port Antonio, has slowly gained over time, the enviable reputation of having the best-tasting breadfruit in the world.

With its unique flavour and versatile culinary applications, the produce is not only highly sought after locally, but is also one of the most requested items from persons with loved ones visiting Jamaica.

“When visiting my family in Fort Pierce, Florida there is no way I can forget to bring breadfruit…no ordinary breadfruit…but Norwich breadfruit,” says principal of Nonsuch Primary School in Portland, Marlise Cowie Adiansingh.

“Talk to anybody here in Port Antonio who is either visiting relatives overseas or have relatives going back to the United States, England, or Canada. Almost always a roasted Norwich breadfruit or more will be a part of that carry-on luggage,” Adiansingh adds.

United States travel writer and perennial visitor to Jamaica, Mauricio Neira agrees, noting that “we have [not] seen or tasted anything like that Norwich yellow heart breadfruit in all our travels.”

“It is really special and something which I believe would capture the market here in the US in a hurry. Jamaica has a real gem on its hand in the form of a unique tasting breadfruit and which persons I know can’t get enough of,” Neira adds.

United States Travel Writer and regular visitor to Jamaica, Mauricio Neira

Residents, as well as other stakeholders, have noted the versatility of Norwich breadfruit, pointing to the fact that it can be enjoyed either roasted or fried. It is also often eaten without the need for any supporting meat.

“This makes it a valuable ingredient for plant-based and vegetarian diets, as well as a unique and flavourful addition to any culinary repertoire,” councillor for the Port Antonio Division, Dexter Rowland explains.

Rowland says the history and cultural significance of the Norwich breadfruit phenomenon make for a compelling story, noting that the district’s tropical climate and fertile soil, create the perfect conditions for producing high-quality breadfruit, which has been a staple in the local diet for decades.

Norwich breadfruit, he adds, is known for its exceptional taste and texture, making it a favourite among locals, members of the Diaspora, and visitors to the area.

Another resident, businessman Renault Tomlinson notes that despite its potential, the underutilization of the Norwich breadfruit as an export commodity represents a missed opportunity for economic growth in the district.

He states that increased investment in production, processing, and marketing, could open new avenues for local farmers and businesses.

“From its rich history to its culinary appeal and economic potential, the story of Norwich breadfruit is one that deserves to be told. With the right support and investment, this amazing fruit could find its way onto tables around the world, satisfying the appetites of food enthusiasts and contributing to the growth of Jamaica’s agricultural sector,” Tomlinson adds.

Minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, Floyd Green states that with more breadfruit trees, the country could become self-sufficient in the production of its own flour. Green notes that between 2013 and 2017, there was a 90 percent increase in the amount of breadfruit exported largely to the United States market.

“We have also seen a 70 percent rise in the value of the export, again largely to the United States market that takes up approximately 67 percent of our export of breadfruit,” he told JIS News. “The reality is that where the world is moving towards gluten-free items, we have a strategic advantage. We have been saying to more people, get into the production of breadfruit, as there is strong local demand, but, importantly, there is tremendous export potential,” the minister adds.

Green says nutritionally, breadfruit is now being classified as a superfood and is a source of protein, essential amino acids, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

“It is also said to have medicinal and health benefits,” he further notes. In 2021, Jamaica exported 1,537,382.21 kilogrammes of fresh breadfruit, valued at US$2.114 million.

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