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Papaya ‚Äď Varieties, Season, production and economic importance

Papaya (Carica papaya) is a tropical fruit with significant commercial importance due to its commercial and medicinal value. The cultivation of papaya began in Southern Mexico and Costa Rica. The total production of Papaya in the world is estimated to be 6 million tones per year. With an annual output of 3 million tones, India is the largest producer of papaya contributing to almost 50% of the world’s total papaya production. The papaya season varies from country to country. The papaya season in India is from August to November. However, the papaya season in India exists throughout the year in most of the states in India.  Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, China, Peru, Thailand, and the Philippines are the major producers of papaya. Papaya is grown in Tropical and subtropical regions of the world

Varieties of papaya in India

There are many varieties of papaya in India. In terms of popularity and cultivation, the red lady is the most popular hybrid variety of papaya in India. The inside of the fruit is orange-red, as its name suggests. The term red lady comes from the red flesh of the mature fruit, as opposed to the normal yellow. Red lady variety of papaya is predominantly used for processing. Within three months of planting, this short variety will flower and be ready to harvest in approximately 4-5 months. 

Washington is the table variety of papaya in India. The size of the papaya fruit varies from medium to large and oblong in shape. The fruit size varies from 1.5- 2 kg with yellow pulp and 12-degree brix.  The average yield is about 60kg/ plant. Unlike the red lady variety of papaya, this variety of papaya fruit takes a bright yellow color when fully matured.

Pusa Delicious¬†variety of papaya¬†is a gynodioecious line with medium-tall plants that begins to yield 8 months after planting and produces high-quality fruits (10¬į-13¬į Brix). The fruit is medium in size (1-2 kg) and has delicious deep orange flesh. It is cultivated for use as a table vegetable.

The Coorg honeydew variety of Papaya is cultivated for both processing and table purposes. This variety of papaya bears greenish-yellow oblong-shaped fruits with orange flesh and great flavour. This variety has a high market value because of its great fruit quality. 

Co-1 variety is medium in size, spherical and has a smooth greenish-yellow exterior with smooth orange-yellow flesh that is tender and firm. This variety of papaya has a high keeping quality and is reasonably juicy. The plant has a dwarf habit, bearing its first fruit at a distance of 60-75 cm from the ground. 

Co-2 variety is medium in size, obovate in shape, greenish-yellow in color, with red colored flesh. The flesh is soft to firm and moderately juicy. This papaya variety is used in papain extraction. The fruit output varies from 80-90 per tree. The fruit has a pulp thickness of 3.8cm and comprises 75% of pulp. 

Co-3¬†It is a hybrid derivation of the Co-1 (female parent) and Washington crosses (male parent). Fruits are medium in size, weighing between 1.2 and 1.5 kg. It‚Äôs a dioecious variety. The TSS of the fruits is 13.2¬įbrix. The flesh has a purple hue to it and is yellow in color. The tree‚Äôs petiole and stem are purple. Suitable for use in domestic gardening. The tree produces 80-90 fruits each year.

States Papaya varieties grown
  Karnataka and Kerala Coorg honeydew, honeydew, Pusa Delicious, and Pusa Nanha. 
Andhra PradeshHoneydew, Coorg honeydew, Sunrise solo, Taiwan, Co-1, Co-2, Co-3 and Washington.
JharkhandPusa Nanha, Honey Dew, Ranchi selection, and Pusa Delicious.
West BengalHoney Dew, Washington, Coorg Green and Ranchi Selection.
OrissaCoorg Green, Washington,  Pusa Nanha, Honey Dew, Pusa Delicious, and Ranchi selection. 

Papaya season in India 

The¬†peak¬†papaya season in India¬†is from August ‚Äď November. The papaya plants are planted during the monsoon and spring seasons. It is not planted during winter since the frost can damage the crop. The papaya plant has a limited economic life of 3-4 years. The yield varies greatly depending on the variety, soil, climate and orchid management. A papaya orchid can generate 75-100 tones per hectare in a season depending on spacing and cultural methods.¬†

Papayas are cultivated throughout the year in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Even in the northern states, the papaya season exists throughout the year. The Papaya season in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Arunachal Pradesh exists throughout the year. 

Papaya season in India

Papaya production in India

India is the largest producer of papaya in the world. It contributes to 44% of the world’s Papaya production. The second and third largest producers are the Dominican Republic and Mexico that contribute to 9% and 8% of the production. As per the report from 2014-2019, India witnessed a 7% growth in world papaya production. Mexico and Brazil are the top exporters of Papaya. Mexico records a 13% growth in the past five years followed by Brazil. 

Papaya production continues to increase in tropical regions due to favourable climatic conditions. As per the reports of world papaya production in 2019, the Dominican Republic and Mexico share an 16% production with a production quantity of 2.33 million tonnes. Mexico and Indonesia share 7% of the world’s total papaya production and are expected to increase in the upcoming years.

Papaya production in India

In India, papaya is predominantly grown in TamilNadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat. In 2012-13 papaya production accounted for 1.9% of the total fruit cultivation area, and its production accounted for about 6.6% of India’s total fruit crops. Among all the fruit crops, papaya produced the highest yield per unit area. (41 tones per hectare). During the past five decades, papaya production in India rose at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% and 7.1% respectively. At a CAGR of 6.8%, papaya production in India increased nearly six times from 7.7 tones per hectare in 1985 to 40.1 tones per hectare in 2013. Currently, the majority of papaya production in India is from southern and western states. Considering the industry’s growth rate of the last twenty years, its production is likely to hit 6.8 million tones in 2030. 

In India, the area under papaya cultivation expanded by 63% from 45.2% thousand hectares in 1991-1992 to 73.7 thousand hectares in 2001-02, with production increasing from 8 lakh to 28 lakh tones. Andhra Pradesh leads the papaya production in India with a market share of 28%. Gujarat shares a market share of 20% followed by Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.  

Papaya production in India

Papaya is a tropical fruit that thrives in the country’s mild subtropical regions up to 1000 meters above sea level. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other states have perfect climatic conditions for the cultivation of papaya in India. The temperature below 12-14 degree C in the winter season for several hours has a significant impact on its development and productivity. Papaya cultivation is sensitive to water stagnation, strong winds and frost. 

States cultivating papayaPapaya growing areas
KarnatakaBellary, Bidar, Bangalore (R & U), Mandya, Shimoga, Chitradurga, Mysore, Belgaum, Hassan
MaharashtraSangli, Satara, Pune, Nasik, Sholapur, Nagpur, Amravati
Andhra PradeshCuddapah, Medak, Kurnool, Rangareddy
Madhya PradeshKhandwa, Dhar,Bilaspur,Guna, Ratlam
GujaratAhmedabad, Jamnagar, Kheda

Economic importance of papaya

Papaya is highly nutritious and medicinal in nature. Due to its health benefits, papaya fruit and papaya pulp is used in various food processing and beverage industries. Papaya is used in the manufacturing of processed food products like Jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit cheese and nectars. Since papaya has a pleasant taste, color and fragrance, it is used in cakes, puddings, desserts and toppings. 

Since the fruit pulp industry is expected to grow, the demand for papaya based juices, and processed products has increased in the past few years. papaya puree and papaya concentrate are used in the manufacturing of beverages like fruit drinks, smoothies, squash, and other papaya based drinks. Papaya puree is a key ingredient in the dairy industry. It is used in the manufacturing of papaya flavoured yoghurts, milkshakes and ice-creams. 

Papain made from the dried latex of the immature papaya fruits is used to tenderize meat, make chewing gum, cosmetics, degumming natural silk, and give wool shrink resistance. Papain is in great demand in international markets, particularly in countries like the USA and UK. Papain is also utilized in the pharmaceutical industry, textile, paper, and sewage treatment.


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