Sweet and orange, papaya is a fleshy fruit that is a species of the family Caricaceae which is made up of 71 varieties of trees. Papaya trees are branchless and produce large fruit. They are often grown in tropical regions in virtually all the continents. Papaya goes by different names in different countries.
Some refer to it as pawpaw while those in the Dominican Republic refer to it as “lechosa”. The plant has a trunk with a height of 1.8 meters to 2.5 meters and which is crowned by foliage. The papaya is usually heavy, fleshy, yellow or orange, depending on the variety and has many small, black seeds at the center. The papaya is a source of nutrients such a carotene (which is found in carrots), vitamin B folic acid, magnesium, potassium and fibers.
The fruit is rich in an enzyme called Papain, which is helpful in digestion. The fruit originated in the southern area of Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It was later spread to the Philippines, Malaysia, Ceylon, Hawaii and the south of China. Papaya requires humidity and heat an adequate rainfall of 1,800 millimeters in order to get optimum yields. The best temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. Low temperatures cause death of the crop. The soil on which papaya is cultivated should be rich in humus, soft and have a pH of 6.2.
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Here are the world’s top 10 largest papaya producing countries in the world today.
The top papaya producing nation is inarguably India which continues to produce even more papaya every year. India produces an overwhelming 5.5 million tons of papayas each year. The fruit is grown in the Indian states of: Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The conditions required for optimum yields are sandy or well-draining soils as still water kills the crop in 24 hours. The temperature must also be taken into consideration when planting the crop. Papayas do best in a temperature range of 10 degree Celsius to 40 degree Celsius. The best temperature is above the 20-degree mark as cold temperatures prevent high yields.
This country accounts for a substantial percentage of the world’s papaya production, with a production capacity of 1,600,000 tons. Production of papayas has been increasing greatly in Brazil. Together with India, Brazil makes up 57% of the world’s global papaya production. Most of the papayas that are cultivated in Brazil are consumed domestically. The nation has increased its exportation of the crop to 30,000 tons to countries such as, the U.S. France, the U.K. and Germany and has earned $38.6 million. The main types of papayas cultivated in Brazil are Solo and Formosa papayas. Papayas are mostly produced in the states of: Bahia, Espirito Santo, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceara.
In the third place is Indonesia with an annual production of 900,000 tons and comprises 7% of the global output. The main papaya producing areas are: West Java, East Java, Sumatera and Nusa Tengagara. These areas listed above altogether account for around 18% to 26% of the total production of papaya. East Java used to be the main papaya producing region with 262,000 tons of papaya being produced in 1998. However, West Java is currently leading the pack with production of 71,000 tons. The hectares of land relegated to papaya cultivation are 6,000.
With a production capacity of 12,075,238 papayas yearly, another place that cultivates papayas is Nigeria. The best land required is one that has a mixture of loam and sandy soils, such as Nigeria’s North-Eastern region. Papaya farming also occurs in the South-East regions of Anambra State and Ifite Ogwari. Papaya farming is an incredibly lucrative venture in this country and is being encouraged by the government. It has made millionaires out of ordinary Nigerians.
One of the largest exporters of papayas in Latin America, at a production capacity of 836,370 tons, is Mexico. Papaya is actually native to Mexico and was grown in this country centuries before the development of some civilizations. Mexican papaya is one of the most rapidly growing tropical fruits available. It is grown and imported to the U.S. Actually, 72% of the papayas that are eaten in North America are grown cultivated in Mexico. The fruit is responsible for the creation of 7,000 jobs. Mexican papayas are of two varieties: the Maradol and the Royal Star. The Maradol papaya weighs three to five pounds and is yellow in color when mature. On the other hand, the Royal Star has a star-shaped core when the fruit is cut open.
Papaya production in the Philippines is at 172, 628 tons a year. The main types of papayas grown are: Cavite Special, Sunrise Solo and Waimanalo and Sinta. The Cavite Special is a semi-dwarf type of papaya that weighs from 3 to 5 kilos. The Sunrise Solo is a new variety that has reddish orange flesh, and weighs half a kilogram. The Waimanalo has orange-yellow flesh and weighs half to one kilo. The Sinta is the first Filipino-bred papaya. It is sweet, fleshy and weighs about 1.2 kilograms. The total area committed to papaya cultivation in the Philippines amounts to 8,720 hectares which is about 0.1% of the entire country. The fruit is usually grown in home gardens and is mostly consumed locally. It is usually eaten fresh.
7. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the top papaya producing countries. It is at number seven with an annual production of 704,786 tons, which is basically 5.6% of the world’s output as of 2014. Production of papaya is mostly done in kitchen gardens and in the farms. The main papaya types grown in the Dominican Republic are: Criolla, Solo, Tainung, Red Lady and Cartagena. The Cartagena is the most consumed due to its high demands. The most important production areas are the southern and the south-eastern regions which account for 40% of the nation’s papaya production. other production areas are: La Romana, San Rafael de Yuma, Santiago, Azua and Valverde. There are 2,487 hectares which are dedicated to papaya cultivation.
8. Democratic Republic of Congo
The Central African country is ranked third in this list as it produces 220,483 tons which accounts for 7% of the world’s total. The area of land that is used to cultivate papayas is 13,500 hectares in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fruit is in high demand in the country and it is consumed more than it is exported. It is eaten as a fruit or used in juices. The nation’s wet equatorial climate is ideal for the cultivation of this fruit among others.
At an annual production of 165,102 tons, Venezuela is ranked ninth. The country has other fruits, many of which have supplies that are dwindling due to reduction of land. This is not the case for papaya. The number of hectares used in papaya cultivation has remained fairly constant. The main challenge facing papaya production in Venezuela is the poor horticultural practices. The main importers of Venezuelan papaya are Colombia, North America, Europe and the Caribbean islands. The fruit has a very strong domestic market and is anticipated to continue being grown primarily for that purpose.
Coming in the last position is Thailand, which produces 157,571 tons of bananas yearly, and comprising 3% of global output. The production of papaya in Thailand is done on 17,430 hectares. The southern and eastern regions of Thailand have the largest papaya area of 16% and 44% respectively. The Ministry of Agriculture conduct breeding in two ways: genetic breeding and conventional breeding. The main varieties of papaya that is grown in Thailand are: Khaek Dam and Khaek Nuan cultivars. The main problem facing is the spread of the Papaya ring spot virus. It was first observed in 1975 and is now spread all over the country. The Department of Agriculture is struggling to rein in this virus even as it continues to affect crops in Thailand.
Among the most incredible healthily tropical fruits papaya stands out too. The fruit has potassium, has folate, vitamin A, Vitamin C, some protein, fiber, carbohydrates . did I mention it has some powerful antioxidant effects, has anti-cancer properties, improves your heart health, fights inflammation, improves your digestion, protects your skin, and its yummy too.