A new, fast maturing, high yielding Pawpaw breed

A new, fast maturing, high yielding Pawpaw breed

The sky is clear as we drive from Ishiara town to Kiaritha village, Tharaka Nithi County to the farm of Isaac Kariuki Njeru, who has found a fortune in farming Pawpaws. His farm is called Kamuturi Ranch. Growing bountifully in his farm; creating a beautiful scenery, is a new, fast maturing pawpaw breed, Red Royale F1 variety.

The variety is a dwarf papaya breed which began to be grown as a pilot project in Kenya some few years back through a partnership between horticultural farmers group and a South African manufacturing drinks company.

This revolutionary fruit, has triggered the rise of farming the new pawpaw variety in Kenya and beyond due to its fast maturity and somehow reddish color inside which makes it very sweet distinguishing it from other Pawpaw’s.

The dwarfness of the plant makes it advantageous from toppling during high winds unlike other pawpaw varieties which grow to very unimaginable heights making them susceptible to falling.

Before venturing into Papaya farming, Njeru elucidates that he was growing Maize and beans but erratic weather patterns made him shift to pumpkin cultivation where he encountered enormous losses which were brought about by constant attacks meted on his crops by white flies.

“After going through all this, I had to change tacts for me to be able to survive. All monies I get, are from farming. I searched in internet and found Red Royale F1 variety which fits this weather and it has high prospects,” Njeru stated.

Driven by his slogan of creating economic empowerment for himself and his family, he has caught the attention of many people from far-fetched areas who flock to his home to learn on how to grow the crop, and others placing orders for the fruits before they even mature

Red Royale F1 Papaya was first developed by an Asia based seed breeder; East West Seeds. It is a dwarf variety with some of its fruits being less than a foot above the ground, closely bunched, with no gaps between the fruits.

On average, a single tree bears more fruits; with each fruit weighing between 2 to 2.5 kilos compared to ordinary papaya trees. This variety produces flowers which have both male and female parts and are capable of self- pollination.

An acre of land can accommodate more than 1000 papaya trees. Of the many commercial varieties of papaya grown in Kenya, only Red Royale has been reported to have resistance to Phytophthorapalmivora, an equally devastating papaya disease. The Red Royale variety is more superior to resistance of the notorious Papaya Ring Spot Virus, responsible for spoilling papayas in the country.

The first step to cultivation of Pawpaws is to sow the seeds in a nursey so as to be able to achieve an even growth before transplanting.

“The clone is selected for higher productivity and good quality fruits besides agronomic qualities such as dwarfness for easy harvesting and good resistance to diseases,” he explained. The breed begins fruiting at 3 months of planting and continue fruiting for more than 10 years.

With proper care and management, Njeru states that a single Red Royale papaya tree can yield up to 500 kilograms of fruits. “When there is glut in the market, we sell at Ksh 30 per kilogram but when the commodity is scarce in the market, I sell at Ksh 60 per kilogram,”

My fortune have changed tremendously. I have counter checked what I used to earn from beans, maize’s and pumpkins and I have discovered the margins are very big and am glad for papaya,” he said.

Njeru decries the high cost of buying the Red Royale papaya seeds. They retail between ksh 250-300 shillings in a small sachet which contains 10 seeds; meaning the price per seed is either 25 or 30 shillings. The high cost of farm inputs is one of the newest headache he is facing after the government increased VAT on major agro inputs.

Pawpaw has a number of benefits; being used as a favorite breakfast and dessert fruit, that should be available all year-round. It can also be used to make fruit salads, refreshing drinks, jam, jelly, marmalade, candies and crystallized fruits.

The Red Royale F1 Pawpaws variety, grown by Isaac Kariuki Njeru at his farm, Kiaritha village, Tharaka Nithi County

For more information in regard to Red Royale F1 Pawpaws, contact Isaac- 0724468038

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