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How to make profits from pawpaw

By Grace Chomba

Here are a few things to put into consideration for a higher profit margins from pawpaws:

Choose the right variety

Common varieties grown in Kenya are solo, Vega F1, sunrise, mountain, red royale F1, and sinta F1.

Solo variety is hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodite plants have both male and female parts within each flower for self-pollination.  It produces round delicious fruits making it popular for both local and export markets.

Vega F1

It produces medium-sized fruits with an attractive red flesh. Its fruits are firm, sweet and weigh about one kilogram.

Red royale F1

It is an improved variety that gives good quality fruits weighing about two kilograms. Its fruits have a red attractive colour and very delicious.

Planting

They thrive in light, well-drained soils with pH value ranging from six to seven and rich in nutrients. The plants are not drought resistant.

You can decide to sow seeds directly in the field or raise them in nursery beds. Greenlife, a crop protection organization in Africa, recommends drenching the soil with a mixture of Pyramid 700WP 100g, Loyalty 700WDG 10g and Optimizer 20ml in 20litres of water before planting the seeds. It helps to eliminate soil diseases and pests, break seed dormancy and encourage uniform germination.

If you choose to raise the seeds in a nursery, ensure you handle the seedlings carefully to avoid disturbing the roots during transplanting.

Mulching is advisable as it helps in the suppression of weeds and moisture conservation. It will also release nutrients in the plants hence producing healthy crops.

During irrigation avoid overwatering as it can lead to the death of the plant. They are sweeter if grown during the warm sunny season.

Controlling pests and diseases

Pests

Fruit fly - The adults will lay eggs under the skin of the mature and ripening fruit. The eggs hatch into maggots which later feed on the fruit causing it to rot.

Spider mites- They suck plants' sap affecting the overall performance of the plant. It leads to stunted growth, leaf drop and production of fruits with blemishes. Prolonged dry seasons attract a severe mite infestation.

Whiteflies - They are white sap-sucking insects that cause curling and distortion of leaves. They can spread viral infection in the plants.

Thrips - They are sap-sucking insects which attack and puncture shoots, leaves, and flower buds. They cause flower abortion hence reducing fruit yields.

Scales feed on shoots, leaves and fruits causing the development of sooty mould.

Diseases

Damping-off – This is a soil-borne disease that causes roots and stems rot leading to yellowing of leaves and fruit fall. In extreme cases, it leads to plant death and tumbling.

Papaya ringspot – It is a viral infection spread by aphids. The leaves start mottling and vein clearing. In extreme, the leaves become distorted reducing its size. The fruits get dark rings that remain green after ripening. It might cause death in young plants.

Pestnet Photo

Powdery mildew – The disease causes whitish fungal growth in plants, distortion of leaves and soots. It can lead to premature fruit fall.

After harvesting, ensure you wash the fruits to prolong their shelf life. Keeping in check of these common pests and disease one will be in a position to get high yields from the fruits.

 

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