What is your favourite fruit? Papaya (local name: Papay) is a worthy candidate. This tropical fruit is served most often as a breakfast fruit. With its high water content, the nutritional value of papaya includes the water-soluble vitamins A, C and E; mineral content and fibre.
Today I visit a farm in papaya production at Marquis Estate and not a moment too soon. Farmer E. is getting ready to harvest. The trees are laden. This dwarf, yet high-yielding variety is called Red Lady. The plant is a self-pollinating variety that is noted for its resistance to the papaya ring spot disease.
However, they are not as resistant to Anthracnose and Bunchy top diseases which currently challenge papaya production in Saint Lucia. Anthracnose is caused by the fungus, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. Initial symptoms of this disease manifests itself as watersoaked, sunken spots on the fruit. As the fungus develops the coloration of the spots change from black, then pink, then brown. Eventually, the flesh becomes soggy and spreads to the entire fruit. Anthracnose affects fruit both in the field and post-harvest.
|Anthracnose on ripe fruit|
|Advanced stage of fruit rot|
While Bunchy top is a transmitted by a leaf hopper, a1993 IICA Production asserts that the Bunchy Top is triggered by mineral deficiencies, the disease source being mycoplasma ."Bunchy top can be distinguished from boron deficiency by the fact that the tops of affected plants do not ooze latex when pricked".
Both these diseases are controllable.
|Bunch top advanced stage|
Farmer E. believes that both the quality and quantity of papaya production establish papaya worthy not only at the breakfast table but also at the trade table to supersede banana production. While attempts have been made, papaya production has not significantly developed since historical 1993. The same diseases which plagued sustainable production and supply still exist. Commercial production was and still remains limited to the local market. The control of these debilitating diseases is a pre-requisite for the development of a papaya industry with export quantities and quality for international markets. It is also important to invest in research for the development of varieties that are resistant to disease. The Caribbean's competitive advantage over producers in sub-tropical areas also lies in:
- Shorter time required to flower
- Reduced period for fruit set
- Reduced time to harvest
Please share your thoughts on the potential of the marketability of papaya.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: http://plantdiseasehandbook.tamu.edu/food-crops/fruit-crops/papaya/