Saravanan belongs to Sakkammalpuram which is about 5 km from Pudukottai to Sayarpuram in Toothukudi district. He makes a categorical statement that papaya is a promising fruit in terms of lucrative cultivation at all times. He has fully realised and highlighted its importance that in the event of water shortage and paucity of manpower, it is only the papaya tree that will help us face the challenge. That is why many farmers like Saravanan have resorted to papaya cultivation.
Saravanan worked in his uncle’s shop for some time after his Plus Two studies. However, as his father suddenly passed away, he resorted to his family business of agriculture. Unfortunately, Saravanan had incurred heavy loss in banana cultivation which he was doing under chemical farming. The ‘nadan’variety of banana plant made him lose lot of money in terms of manure, labour, insecticides etc.
His family friend directed him to do papaya cultivation as an alternative to the loss-incurring banana. His friend had assured to him that papaya would not require any chemical fertilizer but would give him good profit and scope for repeat harvest. Accordingly, Saravanan has cultivated ‘red lady’ type of papaya in 2 ½ acre of land and malai ethan banana in one acre and lime in ½ acre land. He had to spend lot of money in making the soil cultivable because it was a loose red soil.
Normally, the harvest of any fruit from the Tamil month of Chithrai to Adi (April-August)will be abundant; but at the same time, due to glut in the market, it would result in reduction of price, thereby hitting the profit for the farmer. Hence, strategically, they must be sown in the month of Karthigai (Nov-Dec)so that the harvest would be in the month of Avani(September). In this way, the fruits, though harvesting will be less can be sold for a better price leading to profitable business for the farmer.
Harvesting of papaya can be done from the ninth month for continuously nine months at the rate of three times a week. Thus, we can do it for a total no. of 108 times and each time, it will be not less than 800 kg.
Average harvest = 100 times
Average quantity = 700 kg.each time
Total receipt = 700 x 100 = 70,000 kg.
Average price per kg. = Rs.7/-
Total income = Rs7 x 70,000 = Rs.4,90,000/-
LESS expenses towards
manure, labour, sowing, etc. = Rs.1,50,000/-
Net profit receivable = Rs.3,40,000/-
Saravanan further confirms that he sells only in Tuticoin vegetable market while some people collect the fruits from his farm itself. He also says that no one offers any special price because it is organic in nature. However, he gets his own satisfaction that he is able to sell good and hygienic fruits to his customers. As of now, he has planted papaya exclusively in one acre and as an inter-crop, he has put cucumber also. Saravanan is ever confident that papaya would never fail in terms of profit to him.
Saravanan’s tips on cultivation of papaya:-
The allotted one acre of land should be hand-ploughed and allowed to dry for ten days; repeat process to be done again
Ploughing by rotavator is to be done
Next day, drip water irrigation facility with 2 mt.distance in between seedlings and 2 mt.distance between rows should be created
Watering should be done for two days both morning and evening for 2 hours
On the third day, pit measuring 15 cm should be created for sowing the seeds
Preferably, it must be done in the evening so that it will withstand the sunlight
1000 plants would be required for one acre
The part where the root and the stem merge is called ‘ring circle’. This is the point of demarcation wherein the root from this point should be beneath the soil while the stem to be upwards in open in order to prevent the disease of ‘ermeria’ that will destroy the stem. Moreover, watering should be done continuously for 2 days and then on alternate days without fail. Similarly, on the 45th day, pits must be created 1 ft.from the plant with 2ft.breadth and 1 ft. depth wherein the dried cow dung should be kept. Groundnut cake will invite noorpuzhu and hence care must be taken accordingly. 5 kg.karuppati with 1 lt.EM karaisal should be mixed in 200 lt.water and this mixture should be kept for one week before use. This needs to be given 2 months from the sowing to the plants once a month through drip process starting from the second month. This will stimulate the growth.
Between 90 and 95 days (three months), flowering will occur. The drip irrigation channels must be kept away by a foot in order to give space for the roots to spread.3 kg.poultry residue should be given for each plant to be again repeated once in two months.
Fish Karaisal for more production:-
Normally, from the 9th month onwards, it will start giving fruits and from the 11th month it will be increasingly more. Additionally, 10 kg.fish residues and 1 lt.EM Karisal should be mixed in 200 lt.water and kept intact for 40 days. From this, 10 lt.karaisal must be poured through drip irrigation channel once a week. This will stimulate sprouting, flowering and bearing more fruits. Up to 15th month, the fruits will be maximum and thereafter it will start decreasing. To sustain the output, it is essential to pour in fish residue and EM Karaisal once a week and also poultry manure once in 2 months regularly without fail between 9th and 18th month.
Value of papaya fruit:-
Besides Vitamin A in papaya, it contains the enzyme papain which will help in proper digestion of protein in our body. It is also an anti-constipation fruit and will take care of not only indigestion and acidity but also problems in the liver, if any. Similarly, the unripe papaya fruit or juice will help one to get rid of the ring worms in stomach.
How to do away with mealy bugs:-
Right from the first month of sowing the seed of papaya, we must be watchful of mealy bugs which will start attacking either beneath the leaves or near the stem area. Immediately on noticing the insect, it is imperative that water spray should be done, following which 100 ml.neam oil must be mixed in 10 lt.water with little bit of khadi soap karaisal also for spraying. A constant watch is required to identify the mealy bugs.
Decay to be avoided:-
Sometimes bacteria may attack the root part which will result in decay of the plant itself. The indication will reflect on the leaf by means of colour change. If it is noticed, we must check out the root immediately. To prevent this damage, a mixture of 10 lt. water, 200 gm.shell lime and 200 gm.copper sulphate should be carefully prepared without damaging ourselves. Now, 1 lt. copper sulphate should be mixed in 10 lt.water and 100 ml.mixture should be carefully sprayed in the root area. This will ensure decay of the roots.
Papaya is thus the most dependable and useful plant for the farmers as well as the consumers.
(This article written in Tamil by Karthikeyan for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)