Pawpaw is a tropical patch-forming tree that produces big oblong-shaped green fruits which later turns yellow when fully riped. It’s one of the biggest fruits in the United states, Nigeria and some other parts of the world. It’s believed to have originated from Carica native to Mexico and Central America hence the name “Carica Papaya”. Today, it’s being widely grown and eaten in many parts of the world.
The scientific name of Pawpaw is Asimina triloba which was gotten from native America (Miami-Illinois). It is a very sweet fruit that tastes good just like banana, pineapples and Mangoes. Because of this, many people love eating it while many food processing companies uses as natural flavor for making different kinds of edible processed foods.
Pawpaw farming, plantation or cultivation is a very lucrative business and it’s worth investing on. But what guarantee your success as a pawpaw farmer is getting the right variety/specie of seed or seedlings and good knowledge on how to cultivate and market your pawpaw fruits.
Pawpaw fruits are highly lucrative but also highly perishable after harvest so you need to have a good marketing strategy in order not to be on the loosing side.
Papaya is not just only sweet but has a lot of nutritional values. So below are some of the health benefits of Pawpaw.
- It contains vitamin A and flavonoids which keeps the mucus membranes in the eyes healthy which is great for the eyes.
- It promotes hair growth and production of sebum which is great for healthy hair.
- Pawpaw lowers cholesterol because it’s rich in fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants.
- It helps boost your immune system. Thanks to enough vitamin C contents in the fruit.
- There is an enzyme in pawpaw called “papain”. It’s function is to regulate and ease flow during menstrual pain.
- Fights against cancer.
- Anti-inflammatory effects.
Because of these values and it’s uses, Paw-paw can be grown as a subsistence or commercial farming business.
Interestingly, you don’t require huge capital to start pawpaw farming in Nigeria especially if you already have a land for planting it.
The commercial pawpaw farming business is highly lucrative because the fruit is in high demand and you are guaranteed a good Return On Investment (ROI) if managed properly.
Before you delve into this type of farming, it’s advisable to read through these procedures and steps for better cultivation and harvest.
HOW TO START PAWPAW FARMING
Pawpaw farming is simple if you follow the best practices. For a better yield, follow these steps below;
STEP 1: Get a Suitable Land To Plant Your Pawpaw Trees
This crop grows and yield well in deep loamy soils and sandy-loamy soil with soil PH values of between 5.5 to 7.0. Avoid planting in a sandy soil or waterlogged area (clay soil).
Ensure the farm land has adequate water either through rainfall or irrigation. There should be adequate sunlight in the farm. For better performance, plant your pawpaw crop in an environment that has about 23 to 33 degrees Celsius.
Having said that, pawpaw tree doesn’t grow well in very cold or very hot weather. It can be planted anytime of the year but best months are from April to June.
I can say that getting a farmland is the highest capital intensive aspect of paw paw farming in Nigeria but you can always rent a land to minimize cost.
STEP 2: Get The Suitable Pawpaw Variety To Cultivate
Of course, using the best variety is a right step in the right direction. A suitable variety is a special specie that yields high, grows in many type of soil and can withstand diseases.
A tree from a good pawpaw variety can produce 50 to 85 fruits annually. Some of the best varieties includes Sunflower, Taylor, Taytwo, Mary Foos Johnson, Mitchel, Davis, Rebeccas Gold with the dwarf species preferred over the tall one mainly because of high yield and easy harvest.
STEP 3: Farm Clearing and Preparation
Now that you have secured a farmland and pawpaw variety to plant, it’s time to clear and prepare the land for cultivation.
You can either clear using manual tools (cutlass, spade, hoe etc) or machines (if it’s a big farmland)
Gather the wastes and burn them. You can either reuse the ashes as manure or add fertilizers to the soil before planting.
Another advisable thing to do on your farmland is fumigation. Once these are done, you are all set to plant the seedlings.
STEP 4: Planting
Pawpaw tree is best planted through its seed rather than transplanting because it’s highly volatile. So pawpaw is best grown by propagation of its seeds from the harvested fruits.
Just make sure you choose the best and healthy seeds.
For best practices, get a riped pawpaw from a good variety, break or slash it with a knife to get the small black seeds. Now take the seeds to your farm and plant 5 seeds in a 15cm dept hole and 2 x 2 meters spacing.
Meanwhile, if you really want to transplant some of the germinated seeds, make sure it’s done eight weeks after planting and carry out the process carefully as the plant can easily die off.
Remember that there is male and female pawpaw varieties – both are needed in the same farmland for easy pollination because the tree is not self pollinated. So it requires cross pollination.
The female papaya tree is the one that produces fruits after being pollinated by the male papaya. It’s required you have both in your farm.
STEP 6: Weeding
The importance of weed control cannot be overemphasized because it helps free the plant from unwanted plants which struggles to share nutrients. Weeding also help in reducing crop diseases and pests.
Weeding can be done mechanically or manually depending on the size of the farm.
It is first done after 3 months of planting.
STEP 7: Fertilizer Application
After weeding, the next step that follows immediately is applying of suitable fertilizer. The type and quantity of fertilizer you should use would be determined by the soil type (acidity & alkalinity) of the soil.
But in normal condition, apply 50 g of NKP 15-15-15 per plant , 3 weeks after transplanting and at monthly intervals up to 6 months after transplanting.
Additionally, local manure can be used as supplement for even better performance.
STEP 8: Irrigation
If you planted the papaya tree in dry season or in area with low rainfall, it’s good you apply irrigation practices to make water available for better growth and yield.
For newly transplanted seedlings, apply 3 liters of water per plant twice a week,
For flowering plants, apply 5 litres twice a week,
for bearing plants apply 15 liters of water per plant once a week.
STEP 9: Pest Control
Pest is a regular enemy to plants and paw-paw is not an exception. However, there are preventive methods to fight against these harmful pests.
For instance, in subsistence farming, ash is poured on the root of the pawpaw tree to chase away pests while in commercial farming, suitable pesticides are used to kill the pests.
Common Pawpaw pests are;
- Papaya mealybug
- Red Spider mite
- Fruit fly
- Reniform nematode
- Root knot nematode
When attacked by any of the above pests, the papaya plant can die, have stunted growth, fruits fall off or the flowers fall off before maturing into a fruit. So it’s very important to control it.
STEP 10: Harvesting
A good variety of Pawpaw is due for harvest as early as the sixth month from planting. It’s harvested once the fruit skin starts turning from green to yellow color.
Pawpaw tree yields larger and better fruits when young but as it’s gets older, the fruits becomes smaller. Also chances of disease attack increases.
A tree can yield 50 to 90 fruits per year.
Marketing Of Pawpaw (Papaya)
Because it’s highly perishable after harvested, it becomes paramount to inform your potential buyers of your paw paw fruit so that you have an already market for it as soon as it’s harvested.
You should reach out to industries who use pawpaw and it’s byproducts in the production of fruit juice, cosmetics, beverages and medicines. This will help you create awareness and sell off your ripped pawpaw easily.
According to this analysis, planting paw paw on 2 plots will yield you close to million yearly?
Now, let’s say you plant Pawpaw on a plot of land.
The maximum trees a plot can take is 200 stands
A good variety produces up to 60-90 fruits in a year and a fruit is sold @ N50 bulk purchase
200 × 60 = 12,000 Fruits in a year
But let say you sold 10,000 fruits
10,000 × N50 = N500,000 sales not profit
Each tree stays 4years, and fruit production begins on the 6th month, this means that a tree produces for 3years and 6 months.
Now, let’s say 3 years
N500,000 × 3 years = N1,500,000
N1,500,000 from ‘ordinary’ pawpaw on a plot in less than 4 years
There are so many unused plots close to you that you can either lease or get to use for free. Start Pawpaw farming today and you won’t regret. Delay is dangerous. You can also interplant papaya with other cash crops like Cocoyam, maize, pumpkin etc in the same farmland.