African Wildlife Defence Force (AWDF) – forestry department, “The Nutrecul Project”

“NUTRECUL: Nutritive Trees Cultivation”

by Jean DB, Director AWDF

In 2012, I met the Flemish bakery consultant and former colonial Guido Lasat. For 25 years he had worked together with the CICM Missionaries on an agro-forestry project in the rainforest of the D.R.Congo. As proud Congolese quarter blood, horticulturist and nature lover I was looking for a solution to help the population in the land of my grandfather. My biggest dream was to help the local population. And to find a solution in the fight against malnutrition. But also to protect the environment and create an income generation. Mr Guido Lasat probably saw in me a successor to continue the project of the Fathers. And so one day after previous talks he handed me a folder of papers and scientific articles of field work. The last thing he said to me then; “I give you a project. It is actually a poison gift. But I am convinced that you are the right person. Be careful and you will help many people.” I never heard of him. And a year and a half later I came to know that he died from cancer.

Deep in the rainforest on the banks of the Congo River, in the middle of the pygmy villages, the Belgian father Jacques Bijttebier had a mission post. During the rainy season of 1974 father Jacques Bijttebier noted that some pygmy men did not return to the village from their hunting trip. He was worried, but elsewhere in the village the elders told him that it was an annual event, and that the spirits of the forest had token the men. This Belgian Catholic father did not resign and went forth deep into the forest. What he discovered next In the forest, was a large tree with majestic fruits. And skeletons of many generations of pygmies on the ground around the trunk of the tree. The Pygmies had apparently walked among these tropical looking Christmas tree. But unfortunately some of these little guys were killed after being hit through the green Christmas balls. I need to disappoint you, because he did not find a black Santa. This was his first introduction to the Treculia africana or African breadfruit tree. Boimbo like the pygmies called it. This tree was maybe a discovery for him. But it was 129 years earlier discovered by a French botanist A.Trecul.

During the following 19 years, Father Bijttebier did research to the traditional use of the fruits and its benefit. He selected the best varieties of the Congo and mapped the dissemination area of the Treculia africana, while working closely with several laboratories in Belgium. Including the laboratories for cattle feeding, soil-genesis and soil-geography, tropical forestry, biochemistry of nutrition of the Universities of Leuven and Ghent. But also the laboratory of the company Vandermoortele, an international manufacturer of edible oils and fats. In 1978 he wrote an essay about his bake tests using Treculia flour. And in the early 90s he travelled around the world to speak about the properties and nutritional value of this plant.

This multipurpose tree species is a suitable source of firewood and charcoal. But also for the provision of food for the local population. The seeds are extracted after macerating the fruit in water and then ground to a meal, known as breadfruit flour, which can be used to produce a variety of baked foods. A non-alcoholic beverage almond milk, can be prepared from powdered seeds, which is recommended as a breakfast drink. Seeds can be dried, fried or roasted and eaten, and edible oil can be extracted from them. The grains have an excellent polyvalent dietetic value, the biological value of its proteins exceeds even that of soybeans. And the flour can be made into bread, pasta, table oil, margarine and baby food. Even the fruit-head pulp and bran which contain 9.4% and 5.7% protein, respectively can be used in livestock feed. Monkeys are very fond of the fruit and extract the seeds.

What's even more interesting about this tree species is that they start bearing fruits after 3-5 years and on a plot of 1ha (or 2.5acres), 500 trees can produce up to 10 tons of fruits in there mature stadium. And the fruits need no plucking, one fetches them simply at the foot of the tree throughout the year . The tree is a soil improver and a good source of mulch which allows inter-cropping systems in agro forestry. Also, the collection and sales of seeds of Treculia africana could provides seasonal and off-season income.

The Treculia africana is a fruit tree of rivierine forest in tropical Africa. And is usually found near streams or in swampy areas in forests. It is not very light demanding and will grow in a wide variety of soils and climate conditions. It will thrive in most tropical and subtropical regions. Belgian missionaries have planted this tree in the south of Congo in Lubumbashi which is a dry wood/bush area. But also in Chad which is Sahel.

In 1974 Father Jaqcues Bijttebier mapped the dissemination area of the Treculia in Africa (under the guidance of the FAO). Strengthened by the geographic coordinates, calculated according to precise data from the exicata of the Treculia africana in Tropical Africa, it became possible for Father Jaqcues Bijttebier to bring these natural sites of the tree, with great accuracy, upon the pedologic maps of Africa. Afterwards the files where submitted to Dr. ir. J. d'Hoore, at that time Professor of Soil-Genesis and Soil-Geography at the Katholic University of Leuven (Belgium), who has studied them with his assistants. He also looked up for each of the natural sites of the species, the registered climatic data. Accordingly he believed he was able to conclude that as a whole, the Treculia africana is not exacting concerning the soil-structure, from the moment that it can be reforested, although better harvest are surely to be expected on better soils. The extrapolation of these pedologic and climatic data, pointing out about 8000 places in the tropical and subtropical regions of the whole world, situated between latitude 17°30'N and 27°30'S. In every of these 8000 places, research of the soil-structure and climatic data are made. The species will adapt itself in nearly all the tropical and subtropical regions between the cited degrees of latitude. And thus is an interesting crop to be introduced in the Third World.

Since 1974, they know at the FAO on the research of the Belgian father and Belgian universities. How is it that this tree then fell into oblivion? Well, in 2012 after visiting the FAO HQ in Italy. I discovered this was not the case. They deliberately conceals on the research of the father. And for the following reasons… First of all, forget that the UN is a peaceful charitable organization. All his daughter Organizations like e.g. FAO, UNDP, UNEP etc are corrupt and infiltrated by lobby groups. Also you need to know, POVERTY = BIG BUSINESS. Every year the UN spends 25 Billion $ on humanitarian aid for Africa. Everything is funded by donating countries, paid with western tax money. Many companies depend on sales of goods to the UN. And of course the World Bank also grabs it… But that’s not all. If African countries start promoting Treculia like they do in Nigeria. Then they will become self-sufficient. That's what they promote in the west, but do not want. It’s the same like promoting democracy in the south. But once those countries decide to establish an anti-Western government, overthrowing them. Another tidbit; African farmers are yearly requesting to their government for quality plant seeds from the west. Those governments will then borrow money at the IMF for to buy the seeds from Europe or USA. Do you really think that companies send good seeds to the south? NO THEY DON’T. 75-90% of the quality seeds is kept for the western market while 10-25% of the poor quality seeds is send to the south. Why they do this? So the poor farmer would ask the following year for new seeds again and the business continues.

To fast multiply Treculia trees through tissue culture, it would cost me 2,5 $/tree. And I calculate that they need to plant at least 2 million ha or 1 billion trees all over Africa to be able to nourish the people. This would translate into 500 trees planted / ha. With a harvest of 10 tons / ha after 5-10 years, this would translate into 20 million tons of fruits a year. Enough food for Africa. The one-time cost would be only $2,5 Billion. Which cost less than the UN price tag of $25 billion a year. O yes, don’t forget that all the trees together will sequestering 1,13 billion of tons of CO2 over 30 years.

There are some families, companies and financial institutions in the western world that are trying to stop me. Because I’m cultivating a tree species which can contribute to the fight against climate change mitigation and malnutrition in Africa. I’m convinced that I can help the poor farmers. And therefore I can no longer remain silent. Those who are trying to prevent me to help others are evil.

On the advice of the Belgian fathers I have collected as many plant material and seeds. And placed on tissue culture in five laboratories in Africa and Europe. I even went to destroy the test fields in the forest. Just to be sure no western company would monopolize the project. Currently I have 15 cultivars coming directly from father Bijttebier’s testing fields.

I’m planning to set up soon a testing field in Kenya (in cooperation with KEFRI), in Uganda (PEA) and South Sudan (Government). But I hope the project will expand rapidly through working together with African government and NGOs. If I can plant 5000ha in South Sudan and a small 10ha testing field in Turkana. I’ll be more than happy. All NGO’s, farmer organizations and governments are free to contact me.

I'm back from a trip in Hollywood. And currently in Europe and preparing myself for a TED talk soon in USA.

I’ll soon post news from Kenya and South Sudan aswell...

(sorry for my bad english, I'm native Dutch and French-speaking)

Best regards,

Jean Db
Director AWDF - forestry department Nutrecul