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Diversification and COVID-19: Fruitful initiative grows Hawaii economy

Auntie Shirley Ann Pualani Kauhaihao picking ulu with a long pole
Source: University Economic Development Program

Honolulu, HAWAII — The ‘Ama’ (outrigger) Initiative has been launched by the Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) via its Multi-Purpose Business Incubator (MPBI) project. As a metaphor, the Ama is used as an economic outrigger to support and prevent the capsizing of Hawaii’s primary economic ship of state (tourism) and while doing so, grow parallel economies and industries for greater economic stability and diversity.  Though State and Federal funding support are being sorted out in how to address the local economic conditions, the decision to launch is relative to the emergency needs of the moment. Though limited in resources, PBCP has engaged stake holders who will complement the Ama, and in time, utilize a set- aside percentage of all TCOM unit sales (currently being negotiated globally) to support the MPBI and supplement the resources to initiate and support the economic recovery, stability and diversification in Hawaii.

The two high impact initiatives are housed under the PBCP Multi-Purpose Business Incubator (MPBI) project that is a partnership initiative between the University of Hawaii PBCP and private industry to create synergies for problem solving or as catalytic tools for economic development to address Hawaii State, Pacific Regional and global challenges. They are the Breadfruit Initiative (BI) 2014 UEDA Award Winning Project and the Thermal Conversion of Organic Materials (TCOM) technology a 2019 UEDA Award Winning Project. The symbiotic synergies of both are designed to embrace local economic recovery needs holistically vs piece meal fixing.

Breadfruit Initiative: Hawaii as Global Leader for Ulu Plant Protein & Gluten Free Food Processing and Manufacturing

New opportunities support Hawaii as a Global Leader in Breadfruit Plant Protein and Gluten Free Food Processing & Manufacturing to meet the global need for high quality alternative protein sources and the health food market.  Breadfruit is a leader among plant protein-based sources. The plant-based protein market is projected to reach a value of USD 40.6 billion by 2025 (source Research and Markets).  Breadfruit is also both gluten free and low glycemic which will impact the  global gluten-free products market size to reach USD 43.65 billion by 2027, according to a new report published by Grand View Research, Inc.  Recent analysis  by the US Agricultural Research, US Department of Defense Deployed War Fighter Research Program and National Tropical Botanical Gardens Breadfruit Institute verified that smoke from dried breadfruit leaves and florescence, used for millenniums among Pacific cultures, contained three compounds more potent than DEET (a synthetic pesticide). The insect pest control market is projected at $17.60 Billion USD by 2023. An additional value-added quality of the breadfruit tree besides its fruits, are its leaves and inflorescence. The leaves and inflorescence are a plant source for Squalene (SQ).  SQ is a high demand moisturizer used in the cosmetics industry. The primary source of squalene is extracted from the liver of sharks. Literally millions of sharks are slaughtered annually to meet the cosmetics industry demand. Medical research has also verified that (SQ) has antitumor and anticancer effects against ovarian, breast, lung and colon cancer and that continued oncological research projects a huge market. Utilizing or extracting squalene from the breadfruit leaves and inflorescence will not only provide a plant-based alternative medicine to mitigate cancer, it can stop the slaughter of millions of sharks. With a minimum 2,000,000 standing tree’s in Oceania, leaves and florescence sources of plant-based squalene and an organic pesticide is limitless. Market demand for breadfruit food products and by products are compelling. Supply is the key.

Oceania Ulu (Breadfruit) Supply Link to Hawaii

Oceania has the highest density of breadfruit trees in the world with over 2 Million standing trees.  With a low estimate of 700 pounds of fruit per tree annually, the region has the capacity to produce at least 1.4 billion pounds of breadfruit a year. That translates into 700,000 tons of raw breadfruit per annum as a conservative estimate. The Oceania to Honolulu supply link can catapult Hawaii to global leadership in the ulu health food and by-product manufacturing industry. Additional supply links with SE Asia are currently being negotiated further increasing tonnage potential. Agreements with the Pacific Farmers Organization Network (PIFON) an 80,000-farmer membership from across Oceania for TCOM/PIFON unit sales and deployment, are in place and will be activated once travel shutdowns to the Pacific Islands are lifted.

Renovating,  Repurposing and Upgrading Old Hawaii Flour Mill & Silos (closed in 2014)

Proposal to restore, renovate and repurpose the old Hawaii flour mill and silo’s that closed down in 2014 in Honolulu would provide the infrastructure for dried breadfruit shipped in from the South Pacific, Central and far West Pacific via US Territories.

State-wide Planting of Breadfruit Plantlets: Goal One million trees by 2022

The breadfruit Industry can be in full operations by 2022 with limited production starting as early as late 2020. The Breadfruit Initiative proposes laying (in most cases restoring) breadfruit agroforestry belts on all major islands of the State with the first-year goal of local training workshops and establishing green houses to support the two-year goal of 1 million trees utilizing root cuttings from standing breadfruit trees in the State. Project will move from community to community as interest and resources allow. With greater State or Federal support funding, the entire State will be engaged and long-term goal achievement greatly enhanced.

Building on the network of Community Colleges, Technical/agricultural Trainings and Certifications that include Children and Elders in Hawaii and global regions.

Student internship and training certifications programs for assembly, operations, maintenance and business development will be required of all participating governments, organizations and interested public/private partners seeking to engage the ‘Ama’ Outrigger initiative.  Technologies and agroforestry methods are designed specifically to enable the inclusion of age groups from 7 years of age to 60+ years of age.  Central to all Ama related initiatives is training, community resilience (Hauula Community Association partnered with PBCP that was awarded the 2019 UEDA Award of Excellence that featured the TCOM technology) and disaster preparedness. Initiatives and methods are designed for easy utilization, operation, maintenance and teaching the importance of regenerative practices. It’s all designed so that even grandmother can take the helm in the face of disaster.

“With minimal investment, both ideas could be ready to go in about six months,” Kymberly Pine, Chair of the Honolulu City Council Committee on Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Quote from Star Advertiser, 5/11 article titled: Lack of Clear Plan to Replace Tourism leaves Hawaii’s Economic Future in Doubt.