Specialty Crop Profiles
These crops support:
- commercial and non-commercial plantings of all sizes, including homegardens
- small-scale commercial operations suitable for family farms and gardens
- local food production for happier and healthier communities
- traditional crops
- integrating trees and crops (agroforestry)
- community food self-reliance.
Surinam cherry is a juicy, sweet-tart fruit generally considered “kid’s food” for picking and eating out-of-hand. In Hawai‘i tasting trials of unusual fruits several years ago, chefs were attracted to the strong, resinous flavors Surinam cherry and began developing unusual dishes highlighting it. By developing a market among chefs over a few years, Surinam cherry has increased in price from $1.25/lb to $6.50/lb.
The principal product derived from lychee is fresh fruit. In production areas where the quantity of fruit harvested exceeds demand, a range of processed products is produced that includes: whole in-shell and peeled dried fruit, processed and canned fruit, purees, and drinks.
World commercial lychee production is estimated to exceed 1.8 million metric tonnes (MT) with the bulk of world production occurring in China (1.0–1.3 million MT). Exporting countries include China, Taiwan, Thailand, South Africa, Mexico, Mauritius, and Australia. Export of lychee into the Pacific islands is minimal with Tahiti importing small amounts from Australia. New Zealand currently imports small volumes from Thailand and Australia. In Hawai‘i, 2008 production was 105 MT which was sold at an average price of $6.05/kg paid to the farmer (NASS 2009).
Popular worldwide, chocolate and many other products are produced from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Two of the main commercial products obtained from the specially processed beans of cacao fruit are cocoa liquor and cocoa butter, which are mixed with other ingredients such as sugar and milk to produce chocolate. When cocoa liquor is pressed to remove most of the butter, the resulting press cake when dried is called cocoa powder (10–25% fat), which is used in beverages, cakes, and cookies. Cocoa butter also has applications in cosmetics and soaps. In certain countries traditional beverages are also consumed locally made from processing cocoa beans at home. The white, sweet and sour cocoa pulp surrounding the beans in their pod is extracted to prepare beverages.
Chili peppers are consumed fresh or in a variety of processed products in many cuisines worldwide. They are used as condiments or spices to add flavor or pungency to dishes. Use in processed products has increased dramatically in recent years. In the U.S., salsa sales now surpass ketchup sales, reflecting on the popularity of Mexican dishes. Chili peppers are used medicinally in Latin America and Africa. In many countries, chilies are part of the daily diet. Some cultivars are also used as ornamentals.
In many regions where chili peppers are widely consumed, they represent one of the few, if not the only, vegetable added to the diet to provide flavor, spice, and variety to grain- or root-crop-based diets. Their consumption represents a major source of vitamins and minerals in certain regions. Processed chili peppers are found in a variety of products including main dishes, meats, salad dressings, dairy products, beverages, candies, baked products, snack foods, salsas, hot sauces, and even in ice cream. Extracts are also used in pharmaceuticals, as medicinals, and in cosmetic products.
Bamboo has a range of benefits that make it excellent for developing small-scale productive enterprises. It is widely used throughout the Pacific for temporary building structures, rafts, harvesting poles, fishing rods, food and water containers, food tongs, and handicrafts. Bamboo species are most often harvested from the wild, such as secondary forests in Melanesia. In Hawai‘i, wild bamboo stands are commonly harvested for fishing poles, edible shoots, and some construction applications, as well as for some craft work and kadomatsu. It is little used for food except to small extent by Southeast Asian immigrants.