Pawpaw Farming in Kenya
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya is done in tropical and subtropical climates and pawpaw plants do not tolerate freezing temperatures. Papayas fruits are delicious and grow throughout the year. These fruits are eaten alone or in a salad without the skin. The papaws fruits are low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and C.
Papayas enzymes promote digestion easing constipation and it is efficient in controlling colon infections and colon cancer. The plants are short living perennial trees whose economic life is concerning four years, though the plants have a period of up to ten years. This means that papaws need to be renewed every 4-5 years for the maintenance of an economic orchard. There are three groups of papayas distinguishable by their flowers(their primary sex) namely:-
Female plants –These fruit trees grow female flowers only. Female flowers are usually single blooms, bigger, and very close to the trunk.
Male plants –These grows male flowers only. Male flowers have long, thin stalks with several small blooms.
Hermaphrodites trees –These grow both male and female flowers. Therefore allow 4 plants per hole and later thin out to single trees when flowers appear. You may need to consult your gardening advisor for identification of the flowers.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Varieties
- The solo variety which produces small round sweet fruits with uniform size and shape. It is hermaphroditic and popular for both export and local market.
- The mountain variety grows at high altitudes with small fruits only suitable for jam and preserves.
- The sunrise variety that produces smooth pear-shaped fruit of high quality, weighing 400 to 650 grams.
- The red royale is an improved breed and gives good quality yields.
- The vegetatively propagated papaya using tissue culture resulting in superior plants that are disease resistant, high yields and are easy to maintain and harvest since the trees are short.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya
Papayas require warm to hot climates for growth, and an altitude below 2100m above sea level, with an annual rainfall of about 1000mm which is well distributed. The growing soils should be deep, well-drained with adequate moisture, but not waterlogged.
Growing of Papayas is by seed which is extracted from sound papaw fruits and healthy trees. Seeds of Papayas may be direct sown or grown in a nursery first.
Papayas can be directly sown at 6 seeds per hole, and then thinned to four plants per hole after germination and reducing the plants to only one per hole after flowering. In plants where male and female flowers are born on different trees, male trees are allowed at the rate of 25:100 females as pollinators.
Prepare raised beds measuring 1m wide and any convenient length. Pawpaw seeds are planted at a depth of 1 cm in rows that are 15cm apart. Water the beds heavily before sowing the pawpaw seed and frequently thenceforth. Young plants are ready for transfer to the field at a height of 10-15cm.plants are sown at a spacing of 3m x 3m in holes measuring 60cm wide and 60cm deep.
Mix 18 kg of well-decomposed manure with 60 grams of double superphosphate fertilizer and fill the hole with this mixture plus the topsoil, and sow four papaw seedlings per hole which will be thinned out to one per hole at flowering. Firm the soil around the trees seedlings, then Top- dress with forty grams of will fertilizer per hole.
Apply 200g of CAN or ASN on individual papaws once a year at the beginning of rains. The Average yields of pawpaw trees are 30-40 tons of marketable fruits per hectare.
The papayas are ready for harvesting when a yellow tinge grows on the blossom end of the fruits. Handle the pawpaw fruits with care as dropping or bruising lowers the keeping quality.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Pests and Diseases
- Papaya crinkle virus seen as wrinkled mature leaves and kills the plant.
- Black spots which appear on the fruit in humid and wet weather.
- Root rot which is common due to over-watering.
- Birds and fruit bats.
- Broad mites, aphids, caterpillars and fruit fly.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Remedies to Pests and Diseases
- For black spots that appear on the fruit spray with an organic copper-based fungicide spray.
- For root rot, water appropriately
- For birds and fruit bats, pick the fruits as soon as they start to turn color.
- To reduce fruit rot and fungal problems, pick the fruit early and ripen it indoors.
- To get rid of the fruit fly, hang fruit fly Traps around the trees.
For mildew, ensure good airflow around the plants and can be controlled by spraying with appropriate fungicides
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Ecological Requirements
- Rainfall– papaya cannot withstand prolonged drought. An even distributed annual rainfall of above 1000mm is suitable. Irrigation should be done in low rainfall regions.
- Soils– the crop does well in light, well drained soils with PH 6-6.5 and rich in nutrients. Roots are very sensitive to waterlogging.
- Temperature– papaya thrives in warm to hot regions of temperature range of 20-35 degrees centigrade. Fruit is sweeter when grown during warm sunny season.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Field Operations
This is done majorly through two ways;
- By seeds
- Vegetative i.e. by tissue culture
Growing papaya from seeds is the easiest, cheap and most successful method. Plants raised from seeds produce fruits of varied shapes, sizes, taste, colour, etc.
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Vegetative propagation of pawpaw using tissue culture can result into superior plants with certain traits, e.g., resistant to pathogen attack, production of high yields etc. However, this method is rarely used because it is expensive.
Seeds can be sown directly in the field or first raised in nursery beds, in polythene bags, containers etc.
- Prepare a seedbed to a fine tilth.
- Drench soil with a mixture of PYRAMID 700WP 100g+LOYALTY 700WDG 10g+ OPTIMIZER 20ml in 20litres of water. This eradicates soil diseases and pests, breaks seed dormancy, encourages uniform germination and supplies nutrients to the young plants.
- Select seeds from a controlled pollination and dry them. The outer layer of the seed coat can be removed.
- Soak seeds in OPTIMIZER 20ml/1l for 30-60minutes to break seed dormancy.
- Place 4-5 seeds in holes, 1cm deep and 15cm apart and cover with a slight layer of soil. Seeds germinate after 2-3weeks.
Seedlings are transplanted 4-5 weeks after sowing when they have attained 3-4 leaves or 15-20cm height. While transplanting, careful handling is important in order to avoid disturbing the roots.
Plants grown in a seed bed should first be hardened off.
- Prepare planting holes 60cm*60cm, 3 meters apart.
- Mix top soil with manure and DAP and fill the holes with the mixture. To improve on nutrient uptake, root development, stimulate plant growth among other benefits, mix manure (1 ton) or fertilizer (50kg) with HUMIPOWER 1kg.
- Plant 3-4 seedlings per hole for varieties with male and female flowers on different plants. Seedlings should be placed at the same depth as they were growing previously.
Newly transplanted seedlings should be watered regularly until they are established.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Uses
- In the making of jam by blending with other ingredients such as soybeans
- pawpaw latex is an ingredient used in the pharmaceutical industry as well as making detergent.
- The extracted oil from pawpaw seeds is used in the beauty industry.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Cultural practices
Weeds are plants growing in undesired places. They compete with the target crop for growth factors like nutrients, sunlight, space and water, as well as harboring pathogens which directly affects performance of the crop.
Spray CLAMPDOWN 480SL 150-300/20l, which is a non-selective herbicide used to control both broadleaved and grass weeds keeping the garden weed-free.
This should be done especially if rainfall is inadequate in order to ensure a steady supply of moisture and especially during flowering and fruiting stages.
This helps in suppression of weeds and moisture conservation. Decomposed mulch materials release nutrients into the soil which are absorbed by the plants.
Pawpaw Farming in Kenya – Maturity, Harvesting & Post-Harvest Handling of Papaya
Papaya plants start flowering 5-8 months after planting and fruits are ready for harvesting approximately 2 months after flowering stage. Maturity however depends on the variety. Harvesting is done by cutting off the fruit from the tree.
Note that fruits do not mature at the same time and thus only the mature ones should be harvested. It is recommended that fruits be harvested just before ripening. Fruits should be handled carefully to avoid bruises which could create avenues for entry of storage pathogens.
The harvested fruits should be washed in order to remove any substances which could affect its shelf life. Bruised or fruits with any damages should not be stored together with the good ones.
Ripe fruits are rich in vitamins and other nutritive elements and are commonly used for desserts or processed into other products. Yields per tree vary from 30 to 150 fruits annually, giving 35 to 50 tons of fruit per ha per year. A papaya plantation can be productive for over 10 years but the economical period is the first 3 to 4 years. It is therefore advisable to renew the plantation every 4 years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pawpaw Farming in Kenya (FAQs)
How long does pawpaw take to mature?
It will take 4-8 years for a pawpaw to produce fruit from seed. Since LEAF’s pawpaw trees are approximately 3 feet in height at the time of delivery, this means it could take anywhere from 2-6 years for your trees to produce fruit.
How far apart do you plant paw paw trees?
Pawpaws can be spaced relatively close together, even as close as 5 feet. Because you will most likely be planting grafted named cultivars, this is the best way to mimic the dense root suckering groves that paw paws form in the wild.
How many pawpaws are in an acre?
Considering that an acre farm can hold up to 1000 trees, a farmer is likely to harvest close to 54,000 fruits in a season and a whooping 108,000 fruits in a year for the three seasons.
How long does a PawPaw tree live?
The plant won’t survive frost and is affected by shade, drought and wind. Both indoor container papayas and those grown outside generally are replaced after four to five years. Some papaya trees may live longer than that if not uprooted, but fruit production and ornamental value declines after about four years.
Do pawpaw trees need male and female?
Hermaphroditic papaya flowers have both a stamen and pistil, the male and female organs. Such trees are capable of producing fruit and don’t require pollination. However, like male papayas, they are susceptible to changing gender. They may switch to being male during hot weather, or to female after beheading
How Much Do I Invest and What’s The Profit in kenya
The average yield in pawpaw farming Kenya for various varieties is about 40 tons per year. Farm gate prices for a kilo of pawpaw go as high as Ksh.60 but let us take a more conservative price of Ksh.30 per kg and a yield of 30 tons per acre. The total income then is Ksh.900,000 giving a profit of Ksh.726,500.
Some pawpaw varieties cultivated in Kenya, for example, solo sunrise and mountain pawpaw have a lifespan of up to 3 years hence giving 2 years of productivity from the same trees. This means that your yield almost twice as mentioned above.