FAISALABAD:Malik Allah Bakhsh, chief scientist Horticulture Department of Ayub Agriculture Research Institute (AARI), has said that papaya had not only sufficient resistance against various diseases like cancer, hepatitis, etc. but its production could also help farmers mitigate their financial constraints.
Addressing a one-day seminar on 'Promotion of successful cultivation of papaya', he said that papaya was a fruit of South American region which was introduced in Pakistan due to its extraordinary good effects on human health.
He said that this fruit contained specific ingredients against cancer and hepatitis and other diseases due to which its cultivation was getting tremendous attraction among progressive farmers and they were earning Rs.1 million to Rs.1.5 million per acre from its production every year.
He said that firstly the cultivation of papaya was introduced in coastal areas of Pakistan especially Thatta, Badin, Makran and Lasbela but later its cultivation was promoted in central Punjab districts including Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal and Okara where this commodity was cultivated over 10,000 acres of land.
He said that papaya was very rich in vitamin A, C and E as well as in mineral salts. This fruit contained more than 50 enzymes in abundance due to which consumption of papaya fruit had great effects on human health.
He said that papaya contained natural ingredients which were very useful for many human diseases like cancer, hepatitis and various stomach problems.
Considering its immense qualities and increasing market demand, the government was concentrating to promote cultivation of papaya in Pakistan especially in Sindh and Punjab; he said and urged the scientists and field staff of agriculture department to provide necessary guidance and training to the farming community to cultivate papaya at maximum space in their lands.
In this connection, AARI scientists were already using all available resources to promote papaya cultivation in Pakistan. However, other departments of agriculture sector should also contribute their active role in promotion of papaya cultivation, he added.
Chief Scientist Department of Plant Diseases, Dr. Azhar Iqbal informed the participants about the government project on diagnosis and treatment of viral diseases of papaya and said that leaves and fruits of infected plants from the farmers' fields were tested at the laboratory of Virology Section and the government was spending huge amount of Rs.20 million on this project.
Similarly, the farmers were also imparting technical training and guidance to control papaya diseases according to recommendations of agri scientists, he added.
Senior Scientist Horticulture Department Muaz Aziz said that farmers had earned an additional income of more than Rs.150 million through cultivation high-value crops and fruits especially papaya in Pakistan.
He said that agri scientists and garden experts of Horticulture Department were using all possible resources to ensure food security in the country in addition to increase per acre production at farm level so that the agriculture sector in Pakistan could be made profitable.
They were also striving hard to open up new avenues of economic development in agriculture sector so that it could play a pivotal role in eradication of poverty in the country, he added.
Scientific Officer Department of Plant Diseases, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal said that Pakistani farmers were inexperienced in papaya cultivation due to which they were facing facing numerous problems in producing quality fruit.
He said that papaya crop witnessed attack of viral, bacterial and fungal diseased due to which the farmers had to bear heavy financial loss in Pakistan.
Therefore, the agri scientists were not only treating these diseases at farm level but also providing technical help to the growers to control attack of these diseases before its severity on the crop, he added.
Principal Scientist of Fertilizer Section/Incharge of Climate Change Center Dr Abid Niaz highlighted the nutritional requirements of papaya plants and said that use of balanced and proportionate fertilizers helped in obtaining better fruit.
He urged the farmers to use nitrogen, phosphorus along with potash and boron fertilizers to get high yield of papaya crop.
Renowned Botanist Dr. Saba Saeed exposed the problems being faced by papaya growers and presented their viable solutions.
She explained in details the successful cultivation of papaya and said that fertile land should be selected for cultivation and the plants prepared in the nursery should be transferred to the field in the months of September and October as well as in February and March.
She said that irrigation of plants should be done with an interval of 15 to 20 days in winter and after one week in summer.
She said that papaya usually begins to bear fruit after 5 to 6 months after its transfer to the field. Therefore, the farmers should concentrate on proper growth and nourishment of the plants during nurture period, she added.
Progressive farmers Sajid Iqbal Sindhu, Mian Owais and Wajid Ali Fatiana also addressed the seminar and said that hot humid climate was most suitable for papaya cultivation.
They said that temperature from 25 to 35 degree centigrade was imperative for proper growth of papaya plants. Being a profitable crop, the trend of papaya cultivation was gaining momentum day by day in Punjab, they added.
Chief Scientist and In-charge Foundation Seed Cell, Dr. Azizur Rehman, Prof. Dr. Shaukat Ali from University of Agricultural Faisalabad (UAF) and Chairman Research Board of Plant Diseases Tahir Razzaq and others were also present on the occasion.