Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Message for the 2017 Pacific and Global Breadfruit Summit.

Below is a transcript of Rep. Tulsi Gababrd's message for the 2017 Pacific and Global Breadfruit Summit:

Aloha, talofa lava, to everyone who’s gathered today for the 2017 Pacific and Global Breadfruit Summit.

As leaders from many different island states and nations, each of you understands the critical importance of building a sustainable, secure economic future for the communities that we serve. In order to achieve this, we need to diversify our economies, preserve our green spaces, and work toward greater food and energy security. We also need to reduce our reliance on expensive imports and produce more of what we need locally to help create more diverse and better paying job opportunities for long-term sustainability.

Ulu holds great promise as a diversified crop, both for Hawaii and for many other Pacific Islands. Ancient Hawaiians recognized this, and they used the trunk of the ulu to make surf boards, drums, canoe parts, poi boards and wood for house and furniture construction, they used the bark to make tapa cloth, leaves to make utensils and bowls, buds to make medicine, sap to make glue, caulking, gum, and medicine, and of course, the fruit as a nutritious and highly adaptable meal - one of my personal favorites. We have an ulu tree in our backyard at home, and very often when I come home and see there’s ulu ripe I make a big pot of fa’alifu ulu, enough for my husband and I, and to share with our neighbors.  Not only is ulu a very delicious and highly nutritious fruit that can be eaten both cooked and raw and grown in many different environments, but it also has many other benefits to our personal health, and to the health of our planet. Breadfruit trees need very little attention or care, and they provide long-term environmental benefits, helping to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, and producing hundreds of pounds of fruit each year.

So know that I share your passion for this incredible resource that we are blessed to share. There is great potential for this power fruit, and I look forward to hearing about your discussions, as you share your mana’o about the ulu and it’s potential.

Right now in Congress, I’m working to prepare for the 2018 Farm Bill, something that comes up only once every five years, and holds many untapped opportunities for Hawaii and the Pacific Region to strengthen its food security, empower our local farmers, and support investments in our local agriculture industry.  I’ll be continuing to fight for funding for important grant programs that empower our communities to live more sustainably, while also strengthening our local and regional food systems. My team and I welcome your input and ideas as we work to empower those who are growing food to feed our people, rather than providing more big money giveaways to industrial, agribusiness corporations.

Mahalo nui loa and fa'afetai tele to each of you for your important work at this Summit and beyond.

Aloha.

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