Delays to bold plans for gluten-free kuru flour


Delays to bold plans for gluten-free kuru flour

Covid-19 lockdowns have stymied plans to mill gluten-free breadfruit flour for local bakers and for export.

Three hundred ma’afala kuru breadfruit tissue cultured plants were to be airfreighted into Rarotonga from Fiji’s Pacific Community lab last month – but the flights were cancelled.

Te Tango Enua president Danny Mataroa says there are 700 more plants scheduled for delivery in September, and 1000 at the end of the year.

Ma‘afala produces 150 to 200 nutritious kuru (breadfruits) each year. The fruit has a creamy to pale yellow flesh and is usually seedless. The flesh has a soft, tender texture when cooked.

As soon as flights resume, they plan to bring in the plants and nurture them in a shade house for three
more months, before distributing them.

“We need to match this 2,000 ma’afala with another 2,000 of our own local varieties,” he says.

Breadfruit is a starchy energy-rich carbohydrate, and is gluten-free. Ma‘afala is higher in protein (3.3 percent) than most breadfruit varieties, and flour made from the dried fruit contains 7.6 per cent protein.

Te Tango Enua will call a training workshop soon, to show growers the easiest and surest way of planting.

Cook Islands has around eight types of breadfruit, with different coloured flesh and different tastes, Mataroa says. Using these would result in inconsistent colour and taste in the flour.

The ma’afala variety being freighted in had already been researched by the University of Hawaii, he adds.

It is a good source of fibre and rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Ma‘afala also provides niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin (B vitamins), Vitamin C, and Vitamin-A producing carotenoids.

Secretary of Agriculture Temarama Anguna-Kamana applauds Mataroa’s initiative and hopes the project
will be successful.