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Papaya cultivation - A profitable venture                         Home
By Dr Ali Muhammad Khushk and Saifullah Hisbani

THE importance of papaya in the world’s economy is demonstrated by its wide distribution and substantial production in tropical countries. It has long been known and cultivated in home gardens because it is one of the few fruits which throughout the year, gives quick returns and adapts itself to diverse soil and climatic conditions. The fruit is cultivated for its nutritive value as it is an important and economical source of certain vitamins and minerals. Besides, it is highly prized for medicinal value. The fruit is used in the treatment of piles, dyspepsia of spleen and liver, digestive disorders, diphtheria and skin blemishes. It is a rich source of pectin and alkaloids like carpaine.

It has many other practical applications. It is used in refining beer and in wool and silk before dyeing and to de-hair hides before tanning. It serves as an adjunct in rubber manufacturing and applied tuna liver before extraction of the oil, which is thereby made richer in vitamins. It enters into toothpastes, cosmetics and detergents, as well as pharmaceutical preparations to aid digestion.

Papaya is generally grown from seed which may take three to five weeks for germination. It is expedited by two to three weeks and the percentage of germination increases by washing off the aril. Then the seeds are dried and dusted with fungicide to avoid damping-off, a common cause of loss of seedlings. Well-prepared seeds can be stored for as long as three years but the percentage of germination declines with age.

Farmyard manure should be used at the time of planting. It is important that the FYM should be dry and well-rotted because there is a likelihood of the introduction of weeds and insects in plantation. About 4-5kg should be used per pit, this approximates to the contents of a basket of 35cm diameter and a depth of 15cm.

Less but fairly good results are obtained with as low as 2.0 kg per pit if the full quantity is not available. The manure should be thoroughly mixed with the soil which has been excavated from the pit, the mixture of the soil and FYM is returned to pit and packed to a level which brings the top of the seedling plant to 1-2cm. The average of the FYM used by the sample respondent is found three to four trucks/acre. The average cost of farmyard manure at Rs7422 per acre.

An economic analysis is necessary to verify the use of various inputs of production and the income obtained. Fixed costs of papaya are estimated by calculating all the costs incurred from initial land development. The main costs involved are land development, labour and machinery. Land development costs include ploughing, planking, levelling and layout of the field. Land rent, government taxes and mark-up on the fixed capital have been included in the fixed costs. The wages of permanent labour and repair of farm equipments and other miscellaneous costs are considered as the fixed costs.

The variable cost consists of production practices and input costs including the FYM, fertilizer and pesticides. The wages for hired labour for irrigation, inter-culturing, harvesting, handling, and transportation and other management practices have been included in the analysis. These costs are known as working capital, defined as the capital required for the production cycle.

The variable costs are collected from papaya producers in the study area. The variable cost consists of land management, crop inputs; FYM, fertilizers, pesticides irrigation and in addition to the payments for hired labour for crop production activities. The variable cost varies from farm to farm and grower to grower as some hire labour while others engage family members for inter-culturing and harvesting of papaya. Results indicate that the initial cost is estimated and found that the highest cost of Rs809 spent on land development, followed by Rs576 on nursery management, Rs466 on planting, Rs718.75 on layout of the area and Rs262.50 on the FYM. The variable costs is estimated and found that highest input costs Rs7,422 spent on the FYM and Rs3,791 on irrigation, and Rs2,836 on inter-culturing. The total initial and variable cost incurred by papaya grower comes at Rs28,833.

Marketing costs are those expenses which are incurred by the growers when agricultural commodities move from the producing area (farm gate to final consumer). Papaya fruit is sold in the field; hence no marketing costs are borne by growers. Marketing costs are paid by the contractors. Growers reported that they do not pay handling; grading, packing loading/unloading and transportation costs because contractors provide labour for picking, arrange packing and transportation.

The total cost of production is defined as the fixed cost plus variable costs (TFC + TVC = TC). The total cost of production is determined to appraise the input-output relationship. For this purpose all costs incurred in papaya cultivation are aggregated and presented table 1.

Study findings reveal that the growers follow traditional practices resulting in low production compared to potential yield. The gap between the potential and actual yield is wide due to poor management practices and post-harvest losses. Other causes of low yield are identified as inadequate use of chemical fertilizer, lack of knowledge to control insect pests and diseases.

The empirical investigation reveals that in the horticulture sector, resources are not optimally allocated which is reflected by the fact that producers achieve low yields. The papaya production varies from year to year because of the perishable nature, seasonal price variation and high production costs. It is investigated that growers put more area under papaya the following year, in case the current market prices are high. This results in serious glut and heavy losses to growers.

There is a shortage of cold storages and processing industries and thus the growers are compelled to sell papaya produce at low price. There is a need to improve the existing infrastructure facilities, particularly the cold storages and small and medium size processing industries which may help in regulating the supply of papaya in markets, and thereby control price variation in the country.

There is lack of information among growers, particularly at the time of harvesting, grading, packing, transportation, marketing prices and supply of the produce. For market conditions, growers mostly obtained information from transporters, or they visit the wholesale market where commission agents are the main source of information.

It is observed that commission agents do not provide timely and accurate information to growers with the result that information received is often, misleading, delayed and lacks credibility which limits the growers to take timely decision for marketing their produce.

Courtesy: The DAWN;

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