Papaya, a deva phala (divine fruit) is valued for its immense medical, industrial and nutritional properties. Rich in Vitamin A, papaya is highly recommended to improve one’s immunity, nervous system, digestion and overall body constitution. In recent years, papaya seeds, leaves and fruit have been used to treat dengue and other ailments found in the tropical region. Papain, an enzyme found in the white latex in the raw papaya fruit is used to treat infections and wounds.
Papaya is widely used in the cosmetic and paper industry. In India, papaya forms an important part of one’s breakfast and is consumed with a dash of honey.
It is perhaps not known to many that India leads the world in papaya production with an estimated annual output of about 3 million tonnes. Though Jharkhand only ranks eighth in terms of overall production of papaya, the quality, size and sweetness of the papayas cultivated here have made it a favourite with the food processing industries to prepare value-added products.
It is very common to see a healthy papaya tree or two in almost all the backyards in Ramgarh district. Small and marginal farmers have hugely benefited from the scientific technology rendered to them by the ICAR RCER Research Centre, Ranchi. A shift from traditional farming has helped the tribals to plant more saplings, increase productivity per hectare and increase overall annual production.
Red Lady, NSC 902 and Ranchi Local and others are grown by more than 300 farmers in this district with 90 percent of the plants bearing fruit of medium to large size. Under the scientific farming system, there has been an increase of 30 to 40 percent in production.
As the agro-climatic conditions in Ramgarh are conducive for papaya cultivation, more and more farmers have shifted from paddy to papaya cultivation as they are getting a lot of incentives and subsidies from the central government. This hardy fruit thrives in these conditions and the usage of organic means to deal with pest attacks has also improved the quality of the fruit and soil condition.
The raw and ripe papayas of Ramgarh are sold in the domestic markets of nearby Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. The timely intervention of the central government and their progressive pro-farmer schemes has truly gone a long way to improve their lifestyle and increase their annual income.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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