Papaya, which is known as a poor man's rich food, is the favourite fruit of all sections of people. More and more horticulture farmers in the district are taking to papaya cultivation due to the increasing demand for the fruit on health grounds.
Presently, it is being cultivated in 350 hectares in the district. The farmers are finding it highly remunerative in view of excellent marketing arrangements that are in place. Traders are directly coming to the farmers' fields and taking truck loads of the fruit, eliminating middlemen in the business. Due to direct purchase by the traders, farmers are earning handsome profits and compensating losses, if any, from other plantations. Papaya has high nutritional and medicinal values and is said to have highest consumption rate when compared to other fruits.
The Taiwan high-breed variety, code named ‘Taiwan Red Lady', is in great demand and is yielding 40 to 60 tonnes per hectare. Each tree yields about 200 fruits. Under the State Horticulture Mission, the Department of Horticulture is giving a subsidy of Rs.9,000 per acre in the first year and Rs.2,000 per acre in the second year.
Horticulture officer B. Syamala says the subsidy component and the drip irrigation systems provided with 40 per cent to 100 per cent subsidy to different categories of farmers are a boon to the farmers. It takes six months to come to flowering stage and 8 months to yielding stage. The plantations are being grown in the mandals of S. Rayavaram, Chodavaram, Sabbavaram, Payakaraopeta, Padmanabham, Anakapalle, Kasimkota, and Elamanchili in the district.
Pothuraju, a papaya farmer from Sabbavaram mandal, says that he is growing the fruit in 20 acres of land and has found it to be financially rewarding with the least of practical problems.
Traders from Tuni are coming to his farm and purchasing the fruit, which is being sold for Rs.7 or Rs. 9 per kg. By and large, the cultivation is hassle-free in view of direct marketing facility from the farm. Naganna, another farmer, says that it is time to fall in love with papaya in view of the multiple benefits integrated in one fruit.
Papaya has multiple health benefits. The fruit has A, B2, and C vitamins, riboflavin, iron, and calcium. Papaya milk has medicinal values, which tackles indigestion, constipation, and piles. The fruit is fat-free and cholesterol-free. It has high vitamin C content and one piece of fruit contains a full day's supply of the vitamin. A study reveals that that when the fruit alone is consumed for days it has a tonic effect in the stomach and intestines. It is also a pain reliever and also acts as a contraceptive.
However, papaya farmers have to be careful with a virus that damages the crop and a pesticide called ‘prophylactic' has to be sprayed to ward off the virus. Assistant Director of Horticulture G. Prabhakar Rao told The Hindu that papaya plantations were being popularised as a people's fruit in view of multiple health and medicinal benefits containing in the fruit. He advises even city dwellers to grow papaya plants in the backyard of their homes. One acre of land can accommodate 1,230 plants and each plant yields about 200 fruits.
Demand for the fruit is high because of its nutritional and medicinal values
Presently, papaya is being cultivated in
350 hectares in the district
Ravi P Benjamin