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Pawpaw (Carica papaya) Production


Pawpaw is a small, deciduous tree that may attain 5 to 10 m in height. In the forest understory, trees often exist in clumps or thickets. This may result from root suckering or seedlings developing from fruits that dropped to the ground from an original seedling tree. In sunny locations, trees typically assume a pyramidal habit, straight trunk and lush, dark green, long, drooping leaves that turn gold and brown in color during the fall. Flowers emerge before leaves in mid spring. The blossoms occur singly on previous year’s wood and may reach up to 5 cm in diameter. Flowers are strongly protogynous, self-incompatible and require cross pollination although some trees may be self-compatible. Pollination may be by flies and beetles which is consistent with the presentation appearance of the flower: dark, meat-colored petals and a fetid aroma. Fruit set in the wild is usually low and may be pollinator or resource-limited but under cultivation, tremendous fruit loads have been observed. Fruits are oblong-cylindric berries that are typically 3 to 15 cm long, 3 to 10 cm wide and weigh from 200 to 400 g. They may be borne singly or in clusters which resemble the “hands” of a banana plant (Musa spp.). This highly aromatic, climacteric fruit has a ripe taste that resembles a creamy mixture of banana, mango, and pineapple. Shelf-life of a tree-ripened fruit stored at room temperature is 2 to 3 days. With refrigeration, fruit can be held up to 3 weeks while maintaining good eating quality. Within the fruit, there are two rows of large, brown, bean shaped, laterally compressed seeds that may be up to 3 cm long. Seeds contain alkaloids in the endosperm that are emetic. If chewed, seed poisons may impair mammalian digestion but if swallowed whole, seeds may pass through the digestive tract intact.


Land preparation

Pawpaw is widely cultivated fruit tree in the tropics and subtropics. Ploughing and harrowing should be done before planting as deep soil cultivation is recommended. The field should be cleared of bushes, tree stumps and leveled out.

Climatic and soil requirement

Pawpaw grows best in areas below 1500 m above sea level as quality and yield are low at higher altitudes. It requires a rainfall of above of 1000 mm and cannot survive sustained drought. Therefore, irrigation is essential in areas of low rainfall to facilitate vigorous growth. Pawpaw can tolerate any kind of soil provided it is well drained and not too dry as the roots are very sensitive to water logging and even short periods of flooding can kill the plants. However, it requires a light, well-drained soils of pH of 6.0-7.0 and rich in organic matter. Pawpaw thrives in warm to hot areas with adequate rainfall and a temperature range of 21-33°C. Cold temperatures below 120 C cause the tree to grow poorly. Fruit tastes much better during warm sunny seasons, however, during cold periods, fruit ripening can be delayed and fruit quality can be reduced.



For commercial production, it is important to select high yielding varieties. Choose variety as per market demand and environmental adatability. Also, site should be suitable with the required production requirements and market for produce should be readily available since the fruits are highly perishable. Pawpaw variety includes:

  • Honey Dew: An Indian variety of medium height that produces oval juicy medium size fruit.
  • Kiru- Tanzanian variety that produces large fruits and it’s a high yielder of papain.
  • Mountain-This is a variety that grows at high altitudes with very small fruits only suitable for jam and preserves.
  • Solo- Hawaiian variety, hermaphroditic and produces small round very sweet fruits with uniform size and shape. It is popular for both export and local markets.
  • Solo Sunrise- Another high yielding Hawaiian variety that produces smooth pear shaped fruit of high quality, weighing 400 to 650 grams. The flesh is reddish orange.
  • Sunset- Dwarf high yielding Hawaiian variety with red flesh and having same characteristics as ‘Solo’ variety and very sweet.
  • Solo sunset- Hermaphrodite fruit having a pear shape, with a small neck at the stem end. Fruit sets at average 1 meter above the ground, red/pink in color and very sweet.  It’s average weight is 425 grams.
  • Sunrise (Strawberry pawpaw) – Has a deep red-flesh. Variety is resistant to the ring spot virus disease. It has a deep red-flesh, freckled greenish-yellow skin that turns yellow as the fruit ripens.
  • Waimanalo- Hawaiian variety that yields smooth, shiny round fruits with short neck and is of high quality. Fruit surface is orange yellow, thick, sweet and firm and usually commended for fresh market & processing.
  • Kapoho- These fruits are smaller than that of sunrise. Solo type with yellow to orange flesh colour.
  • Mexican Red- A rose-fleshed pawpaw that is lighter in flavor but not as sweet as Hawaiian type. It is a medium to very large fruit. However, it is not as sweet as Hawaiian types.



Pawpaw is propagated by seed and therefore to reproduce the desired features, it is best to get seeds through controlled pollination. Seeds are extracted from healthy fruits selected from vigorous plants. The surface layer of the seed coat (sarcotesta) enveloping the seed is removed because it inhibits germination. This is done by rubbing seeds against a fine meshed screen under running water. Thoroughly dried seeds stored in air-tight containers remain viable for several years. The seed may be sown directly in the field or nursery beds, seed boxes or polythene bags then transplanted.

Nursery preparation:

In beds

  • Prepare either raised or sunken beds 1m wide and of convenient length.
  • Beds should be carefully watered before and after sowing until seeds germinate.
  • Seeds should be sown at a depth of 1cm in rows that are 15 cm apart.
  • Seeds germinate in 2-3 weeks.
  • Continue watering until they are ready for transplanting in containers.
  • Prick out at the 2-3-leaf stage, transferring 3-4 seedlings to each container 1 week after emergence.

In containers

Plants propagated in containers are less susceptible to stress and subsequent loss than those produced in seed-beds.

  • 3-4 seeds are sown in a small container (tin cans, plastic bags or paper cups).
  • Sterilized soil to minimizes losses resulting from nematodes and damping-off disease.
  • Germination takes 2-3 weeks and seedlings are transplanted about 2 months after sowing when they reach the 3-4-leaf stage or 20cm height, preferably at the onset of the rainy season.
  • During transplanting, care must be taken not to disturb the roots. Older seedlings recover poorly after planting out.

Direct Planting

  • Sow 6 seeds per planting hole.
  • Thin to 4 plants after germination and later to 1 plant per hole after it is possible to establish the sex of the plant.
  • Plant 2 seeds per hole and thin to 1 seedling per hole after 1 month for hermaphrodite varieties.

Field establishment

Dig Planting holes of 60 x 60 x 60cm.

Spacing and plant population

  • 5 m x 2.5 m (1,600 plants/hectare)
  • 5 m x 3 m (1,332 plants/hectare)
  • 3 m x 3 m (1,110 plants/hectare)

Transplanting in the field

Seedlings are transplanted to the field 4-5 weeks, when they are 10-20cm in height. Young plants have higher survival rates than older plants. When transplanting,

  • Fill the planting hole with a mixture of 40kg of well rotten manure with 100-120g of DAP and the top soil.
  • For varieties that have male and female flowers on different plants, plant 4 seedlings per hole.
  • When the plants reach the flowering stage (after 6-8 months), thin to one female or one hermaphrodite plant per hole. In the absence of hermaphrodite plants, 1 male plant per 25-100 female plants is retained as pollinator. Most of the male plants should be removed since they produce no fruit.
  • For hermaphrodite varieties plant 1 seedling per hole.
  • Transplanting should be at the same depth as the seedlings were previously growing; deeper planting may cause some loss due to stem rots.
  • Plants that have been grown in seed beds should be provided with some simple cover when transplanted to the growing site.
  • Leaf area of the plant should be reduced at transplanting to mitigate the evapotranspiration while the root system is re-established. If possible planting should be done in the late afternoon.
  • Plants propagated in containers are less susceptible to stress and subsequent loss than those produced in seed-beds. However, these will still require attention until they are established.

Whichever technique is used, seedlings should be cultivated into moist soil and watered as soon as possible afterwards. Daily watering will be required for some time.

Management practices

Wind break

This is necessary as establishment of Paw paws do not tolerate strong wind.


This is recommended after sowing or transplanting and later removed so as not to hinder the growth of young plant. Mulching should not be so close to the stem of the seedlings. An allowance of about 10cm from the stem is required.

Weed control

Area of establishment should be weed free so as to avoid competition for soil nutrients Frequent hand weeding is essential and care need to be taken not to damage the roots of the young plants.


Pawpaw can be intercropped with low growing annual crops such as capsicums, beans, onions and cabbages when the pawpaw plants are still young.

Fertilizer Application

Manure and fertilizer

Application of manure and fertilizers should be applied around the plant basin and sunked well in to the soil.

  • Apply manure at the rate of 40kg per tree before the rains begin every year.
  • Apply 40g of CAN per tree two months after transplanting in the first year. If possible, apply a split application of 60g CAN per tree at the beginning of the long and short rains.
  • After which 200g of compound fertilizer can be applied per tree per year at the beginning of the rains.

Pest and Diseases Management

Pest and Diseases

Integrated pest Management is the recommended method for control of pests and diseases that includes good cultural practices, biological and chemical control. Some major pest and diseases of pawpaw are listed in the table below:

Major Pests

Fruit fliesDeveloping larvae cause rotting of ripening fruits.


Flies usually deposit their eggs in ripe fruit.


Over ripe and infested fruit should be buried.


Fruits should be harvested at the mature green stage.


Reds Spider Mites


Mites suck the plant sap, leading to poor plant growth and blemishes on the fruit.


Serious infestations occur during long dry periods

Use recommended miticides


Root-knot nematodesRoot swellings or root galls, resulting in yellowing and premature abscission of the leaves.


Reduced growth and yield.


Do not repel pawpaw in the same field.





They feed on the ripe fruit.


Harvest when the fruits are physiological mature
Major DiseaseCausesControl
Damping-off and Foot rot


Causal organisms: Soil-borne fungi

Rotting of roots, stem and fruits.Use sulfur based fungicides
Ripe fruit rots


Causal organism: Fungal pathogens

Fruit decay.Use sulfur based fungicides
Powdery mildew


Causal organism: Fungi

As the fruits develop, the white mould disappears leaving grey-scarred areasUse sulfur based fungicides
Papaya ring spot virus (PRSV)


Causal organism: virus (aphids)

Infected plants do not flower and they die young.


Infected fruits develop characteristic line patterns, which form rings and remain green when fruits ripen.


Destroy infected plants, doo not intercrop with host plants e.g. cucurbits.


Causes fruits to rot and makes them unmarketableImmersing fruits in warm water at 400 C for 20 minutes can control the fungi infection).


RhizopusA common postharvest disease of pawpaw and is important only during storage and transit.Sanitation in and around the packing area


Harvest and Postharvest Handling

Pawpaw starts flowering after 6-8 months and fruits are ready for harvesting 8-10 months after trees have been planted. The physiological development stage of fruit at the time of harvest determines the flavour and taste when the fruit is ripened.

Harvest when at least 2 yellow strips appear between the ridges of the fruit. You can also harvest by cutting fruits from the tree, leave a stem 0.5-1 cm long on the fruit. The stem can later be reduced when packing the fruits. Avoid latex flowing on the fruit by placing the stalks of harvested fruits facing downwards.

Post-harvest handling

Place the fruits gently into the harvesting crates. The fruits should be handled carefully and should not be stored for many days. Under ripe fruits may be stored for almost 3 weeks and then removed to room temperatures to complete ripening. Fully ripened fruit can only be stored for 2 – 3 days at room temperature. Fruits harvested too early have longer post-harvest life, but give abnormal taste and flavor. Fruits also tend to shrivel and suffer chilling injury when refrigerated.

Challenges in production

  • Lack of quality planting materials.
  • Factors such as fungal diseases, physiological disorders, mechanical damage, or a combination of these are the leading causes of post-harvest losses.

Quality fruits can be obtained by ensuring the recommended pre-harvest and post-harvest practices are adhered to.

Product specification


Marketing standards for fresh products can be found in the UNECE standards and the General Marketing Standards of Regulation (EC) No. 543/2011. Papayas are divided into three classes: Extra Class, Class I and Class II. For the different classes of papayas, you can follow the standard in the Codex Alimentarius, the ‘food code’ of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations:

The standard for papayas in the Codex Alimentarius.


When exporting papaya to Europe, they should at least be:

  • whole and sound
  • clean, practically free of any visible foreign matter
  • practically free of damage caused by pests
  • practically free of pests affecting the general appearance of the produce
  • free of abnormal external moisture, excluding condensation following removal from cold storage
  • free of any foreign smell and/or taste
  • firm and fresh in appearance
  • free of damage caused by low and/or high temperatures
  • have a peduncle, if present, not exceeding 1 cm in length.

Papayas are known to be difficult to handle, due to their relatively short shelf life and delicateness. The fruit bruises easily, and its storage temperature should be maintained at 10 degrees Celsius to prevent over-ripening due to heat and decay due to cold temperatures.

The development and condition should be such that the papayas:

  • are able to withstand transport and handling
  • arrive in satisfactory condition at their destination.


Size and packaging

Papayas are classified according to Size Codes A–J, ranging in average weight from 200–300 grams (Size A) to over 2000 grams (Size J). See also the Codex Alimentarius Standard for Papayas.


Packaging requirements differ by customer and market segment. They must at least be packed in such a way as to ensure proper protection for the produce. The packaging should be new, clean and of sufficient quality to prevent damage to the product. Discuss preferred packaging requirements with your customers.


Common packaging characteristics:

wholesale packaging in cardboard boxes, which can vary in size

papayas are ideally packed in single layers, with a protective lining to prevent bruising and damage.



Consumer package labelling must be in accordance with the rules and regulations applying in the European market. Labels may not contain any toxic ink or glue.

If the nature of the produce is not visible from the outside, the package must be labelled with the name of the product, and the name and any optional name of the variety and/or commercial name.

Labels or marking for (pre-packed) fresh fruits should provide the following information:

  • packer and/or dispatcher/shipper, i.e. name and physical address (for example, street/city/region/postal code/country) or a code mark officially recognized by the national authority.
  • product name ‘Papayas’ if the contents are not visible from the outside and name of the variety
  • country of origin and, optionally, district/region/place
  • commercial specifications. i.e. class, size (code), number of units and net weight
  • official control mark (optional).

In addition, the label should include any certification logo (if applicable) and/or retailer logo (in the case of private-label products). A list of ingredients is not mandatory for fresh fruit, unless the container is filled with several different products, in which case the label should include a list of these, as well as their quantities.

For more information on labelling, packaging and quality, see also marketing standards above or read about food labelling at the EU Export Helpdesk.


Pawpaw Export

Which European markets offer opportunities for papaya exporters?

Positive import growth in recent years

After several years of a steady import volume of around 30 thousand tonnes, European imports have increased from 2013 onwards to 41 thousand tonnes in 2015. This indicates that more consumers are becoming familiar with papayas. Practically all papaya imports into Europe originate in developing countries. The above developments increase the export opportunities you have on the European market. Source: Market Access Database


Germany is an important destination for fresh papayas

Germany and the Netherlands are leading importers of fresh papayas, and also show the highest import growth. A large share of German imports takes place through the Netherlands, which explains the high import figures for both countries. This means that the Netherlands is a trade hub for papayas, while Germany as well as the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal are the main destination countries.

Volumes in the eastern part of Europe are low, but countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have quickly increased their imports to several hundred tonnes per year. These volumes are comparable with those of the Scandinavian countries.

As an exporter, you can either find import partners in the Netherlands, or focus on direct trade routes to relevant destination countries.


The Netherlands is an important market for re-exports

The export of papayas within Europe is limited. The Netherlands is the only country that plays a significant role as a trade hub. Over 70% of the papayas that enter the Netherlands is re-exported, mainly to Germany. Other minor destinations of Dutch exports are Italy, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries.


With which requirements must fresh papayas comply to be allowed on the European market?

Buyer requirements can be divided into

  • musts (e.g. legal requirements), which must be met in order to enter the market;
  • common requirements (which have been implemented by most competitors), with which you should comply in order to stay abreast of the market; and
  • niche market requirements, for specific segments.


With which legal and non-legal requirements must your product comply?


Minimise pesticide residues

Pesticide residues constitute a crucial issue for suppliers of fruits and vegetables. With the aim of avoiding health and environmental damage, the European Union has set maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food products. Products containing more pesticides than allowed are withdrawn from the European market. Note that buyers in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria set MRLs that are stricter than those specified in European legislation.


Comply with phytosanitary requirements

Fruit and vegetables exported to the European Union must comply with European Union legislation on plant health. The European Commission has laid down phytosanitary requirements to prevent the introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products in Europe. These requirements are managed by the competent food safety authorities in the importing and exporting countries.


Quality Characteristics and Criteria

Size, shape, smooth skin, and absence of blemishes are major quality characteristics. Consumers in Western countries also prefer fruit without the heavy musky, sweaty odour found in some Southeast

Asian cultivars. Small, dry brown-black “freckles” on the skin are non-pathogenic and do not detract from ripening or flavor (Reyes and Paull 1994).


Grades, Sizes and Packaging

The most common package size is a 4.5 kg (10 lb) carton, and larger, 10 kg (22 lb) cartons are also used. Cartons from areas requiring insect disinfestation are fully sealed to meet regulatory requirements, while fruit from other areas can be in open-topped cartons. Count size ranges from 6 to 18, depending upon fruit and carton size. Fruit are marketed as “colour break” and ¼, ½, and ¾ ripe, and it is normally ready to eat when there is 75% or more skin colour. Foam mesh sleeves, foam padding on the bottom of cartons, or paper wrapping prevent abrasion injury, which is a major problem in fruit still having green areas of skin (Quintana and Paull 1993; Sivakumar and Wall 2013).


Optimum Storage Conditions

Store from 7 to 13°C (45 to 55°F) with 90 to 95% relative humidity. At 7 to 10°C (45 to 50°F), storage-life is limited by chilling injury, while at 10 to 13°C (50 to 55°F) ripening occurs slowly (Chen and Paull, 1986). Papaya fruit at colour-turning (break) stage can be stored at 7°C (45°F) for 14 days and will ripen normally when transferred to room temperature (Thompson and Lee 1971, Chen and Paull 1986). Ripe, full-colour fruit can be held for more than 1 week at 1 to 3°C (33.8 to 37.4°F).


Marketing Channels

The marketing season for fresh pawpaw is relatively short. Depending on the cultivar, the fruit can mature as early as the beginning of August and continue through the first frost around mid-October (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009).

The fruit papaya (Carica papaya) is also commonly referred to as pawpaw, however, pawpaw (Asimina triloba), and papaya (Carica papaya) are separate fruit. When marketing pawpaw, one might consider using an identifier title such as North American Native Pawpaw to differentiate between the two.

Currently the main markets for fresh pawpaw are farmers’ markets, and less often online retailers. Having free samples for people is a great strategy when marketing, especially for customers not familiar with your product and reluctant to purchase without tasting. Another strategy when marketing an unusual fruit is to have free literature describing the fruit and its uses (Ames & Greer, 2010). Focusing on the nutritional composition of pawpaw is another way value can be added. Pawpaw has a similar nutritional composition to banana, but is higher in vitamin C, and niacin; when compared to apples, bananas and oranges, pawpaws are higher in the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Pawpaws also have more essential amino acids (proteins) than apples; in fact, they contain all the essential amino acids, similar to bananas and oranges (Jones & Layne, 2009).

To further add value, pawpaw fruit has been processed into pulp, which can be used to make many different products such as ice cream, vinaigrette, preserves, and beer. A company named Integration Acres in Albany, Ohio, claims to be the world’s largest processor of pawpaws, and sells frozen pulp of the fruit, thus allowing year-round marketing (Bir, 2014).

The price for fresh pawpaw fluctuates. In 2012 the estimated wholesale price for pawpaw was $1.60 per pound and at farmers’ markets pawpaw were sold for $3 per pound (University of Kentucky, 2012). In recent years (2014-2015) fresh pawpaw sold at farmers’ markets for $4.50 to $5 per pound, and up to $8 per pound through an upscale grocery store. The price for fresh pawpaw bought online is even higher per pound due to additional packing and shipping costs (Chung, 2014) (Dingfelder, 2014) (Rocky Point Farm, 2015). Integration Acres sells their frozen pawpaw pulp for $12 per 2 pounds (not including shipping costs), and the prices for other processed pawpaw products vary depending on the type of product sold.


Global Production of Papaya

Papaya is considered one of the most important fruits because it is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients (e.g., carotenes, vitamin C, and flavonoids), the B vitamins (e.g., folate and pantothenic acid), minerals (e.g., potassium and magnesium), and fiber. In addition, papaya is a source of the digestive enzyme papain, which is used as an industrial ingredient in brewing, meat tenderizing, pharmaceuticals, beauty products, and cosmetics.

Papayas are produced in about 60 countries, with the bulk of production occurring in developing economies. Global papaya production in 2010 was estimated at 11.22 Mt, growing at an annual rate of 4.35 percent between 2002 and 2010 (global production in 2010 was 7.26% higher than 2009, and 34.82% higher than 2002). Asia has been the leading papaya producing region, accounting for 52.55 percent of the global production between 2008 and 2010, followed by South America (23.09%), Africa (13.16%), Central America (9.56%), the Caribbean (1.38%), North America (0.14%), and Oceania (0.13%) (Figure 1) (FAOSTAT 2012a). There are two main types of papayas produced: the small-sized Solo-type papayas (aka Hawaiian papayas), usually weighing between 1.1 and 2.2 pounds per unit, and the large-sized papayas (aka Mexican papayas), weighing up to 10.0 pounds per unit.


Figure 1.

Papaya production by geographic area, 2008–2010. Source: FAOSTAT (2012a).


Table 1 shows the leading global papaya producing countries for period 2002–2010. As shown in Table 1, global papaya production is highly concentrated, with the top ten countries averaging 86.32 percent of the total production for the period 2008–2010. India is the leading papaya producer, with a 38.61 percent share of the world production during 2008–2010, followed by Brazil (17.5%) and Indonesia (6.89%). Other important papaya producing countries and their share of global production include Nigeria (6.79%), Mexico (6.18%), Ethiopia (2.34%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.12%), Colombia (2.08%), Thailand (1.95%), and Guatemala (1.85%). While papaya production has remained relatively flat for most of the major producers, production in India has increased significantly within the last few years, and is chiefly responsible for the noticeable growth in global papaya production. From just over 2 Mt in 2005, papaya production in India more than doubled to 4.7 Mt in 2010, representing an impressive annual growth rate of 14.94 percent. The biggest increase in global papaya production occurred between 2009 and 2010, as production in India increased by 20.50 percent. Such an impressive growth in production was due to a combination of increased acreage planted, improved genetics, and better management.

The global papaya industry faces two major problems: the papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), a disease that drastically reduces fruit yield, fruit size and quality, and in some cases results in total loss of production. PRSV, whose pathogenic agent is carried out by an aphid, has wiped out entire papaya plantations in several countries. PRSV has severely limited the world expansion of papaya production; for example, because of this disease, papaya production in Hawaii almost disappeared in the 1990s. Efforts to save the Hawaiian papaya industry led to the development of two genetically modified (GM) papaya cultivars, Sun Up and Rainbow, which were released to the general public in 1998. Later, in August 2006, another GM papaya cultivar, Huanong 1, was approved for commercialization and released to the public in China. The cultivar Huanong 1 is only available through a Chinese seed company in the form of micro-propagated seedlings. Countries such as Jamaica, Taiwan, and Thailand have also completed successful field testing of PSRV-resistant GM cultivars but are still awaiting commercialization. Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam are still in the field-trial phase (Mendoza, Laurena, and Botella 2008). After a successful variety is developed, issues related to public perception, regulatory procedures, and intellectual property rights lengthen the time to release and commercialize a GM variety.

The second major problem faced by the global papaya industry is significant post-harvest losses along the marketing chain. Factors such as fungal diseases, physiological disorders, mechanical damage, or a combination of these are the leading causes of post-harvest losses. While papaya has suffered post-harvest losses ranging from 30 to 60 percent in the Southeast Asia region (FAO 2006), simple technology and practices have helped to reduce losses and to extend storage life. The major post-harvest constraint, however, is infrastructure development, with challenges such as needed improvements in road access to the producing regions and insufficient electricity supply when demand continues to grow also being of concern for this industry and its stakeholders.


Trends in Global Exports of Papaya

Global papaya exports exhibited an upward trend over the period 2002 to 2009, although growth was somewhat erratic. Total exports in 2009 were estimated at 268,476 metric tonnes (t), a 31.5 percent rise over the volume exported in 2002, with an estimated value of about $197.2 million (FAOSTAT 2012b). Although the quantity traded internationally has been increasing, it still represents only a small share, as less than 3 percent of the global production is exported. Table 2 shows the top ten papaya exporting countries. As can be seen in Table 2, three countries—Mexico, Brazil, and Belize—dominate the papaya export market. Together they accounted for 63.28 percent of the global trade between 2007 and 2009. During that period, Mexico was the leading papaya exporter, representing about 41 percent of the trade, while Brazil and Belize accounted for about 11 percent each of the trade. Other major papaya exporting countries include Malaysia, India, and the United States (mainly via re-exports). In the case of India, despite being the world leading papaya producer, exports of the fruit in 2009 were less than 1 percent of the total production. India domestic demand for papaya has been strong because of a sizable population, a significant rise on per-capita income, and a growing interest for healthier food products (The Hindu Business Line 2011). The rise in global papaya exports was particularly strong in 2009, as shipments from Mexico increased markedly from 90,316 t in 2008 to 134,960 t in 2009.



As mentioned earlier, Mexico is the leading exporter of papaya. The main papaya cultivars grown in Mexico are Maradol and Red. Minor cultivars include Yellow Hawaiian and Criolla. The main papaya plantations are located in the south-eastern area of the country in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacan, Tabasco, and Yucatan; these states account for more than 80 percent of the total Mexican production. Looking at the period 2006 and 2010, papaya production fell precipitously by 29.59 percent, and harvested area declined by 5,211 hectares (ha), or 36.74 percent (Table 3). Higher production costs, restricted access to capital, and pests and diseases have been cited as the chief factors leading to the decline in production. On the positive side, there has been some gain in productivity. Compared with 2006, average yield in 2010 rose by 2.2 t/ha. It is apposite to note that even though domestic production of the fruit has trended downward, fruit exports have trended upward. Exports have increased from 93,396 t in 2006 to 122,773 t in 2010, reflecting an annual growth rate of about 7.86 percent. For the year 2010, about 20 percent of the total Mexican papaya production, valued at about $44.4 million, was sold to the international markets (SIAP 2012). The bulk of exports from Mexico is shipped to US and Canadian markets.



Brazil is the second largest papaya exporter, with its largest plantations located in the state of Espírito Santo and in the north-eastern area of the country. The climate of these regions makes it possible to produce and export papaya year-round. The main papaya cultivars grown in Brazil are the Golden and Formosa. Between 2006 and 2010, domestic papaya production decreased by 1.40 percent, or 26,340 t, reflecting a 2,293 hectare (ha) decline in harvested area (Table 4). The decline in harvested area was somewhat offset by a rise in productivity. Average yield increased 2.7 t/ha between 2006 and 2010. The domestic market for papaya is important in Brazil, where less than 2 percent of Brazilian papaya production is sold on the international markets at an estimated value of about $35 million (IBRAF 2012a, 2012b). Because of the importance of its domestic market for papaya, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) has collaborated with the developers of the Hawaiian GM papaya to develop a Brazilian GM variety resistant to the PRSV (Mendoza, Laurena, and Botella 2008).



Belize overtook Malaysia in 2007 to become the third largest papaya exporter. The main papaya growing region in Belize is the Orange Walk District located in the northwestern area of the country. Belize produces the small-sized Solo-type (Sunrise, Kapoho, and Tokita Sunrise) and large-sized type (Princess Scarlet, Maradol Rojo, and Tainung II) papaya cultivars. The decline in production between 2006 and 2010, from 34,500 t to 25,100 t, or 37.45 percent (Table 5), is due in large part to the destruction caused by Hurricane Dean in 2007. Unlike most of the other leading exporters, only a small portion of the Belizean crop, less than 1 percent, is consumed locally. Papaya ranks third behind citrus and sugarcane in Belizean crop exports. In 2010, its papaya exports were estimated to be about $12.6 million (SIB 2012; UN Comtrade 2012).


Trends in Global Imports of Papaya

Table 6 shows the top ten papaya importing countries. As can be seen in Table 6, international demand for the fruit is highly concentrated, with the United States being the largest importer of fresh papaya, accounting on average for 54.60 percent of the global papaya imports between 2007 and 2009. Other top importers of papaya and their respective shares of the total imports are Singapore (8.34%), Canada (5.30%), the Netherlands (4.18% as re-exports), the United Kingdom (3.29%), Germany (3.25%), Hong Kong (3.06%), Spain (2.46%), Portugal (2.36%), and El Salvador (2.33%), respectively.

As the largest papaya importer, papaya imports to the United States have grown at an annual rate of 10.94 percent, from 88,559 t in 2002 to 156,430 t in 2009. The three main papaya exporters to the US market and their share of the export value in 2009 were Mexico ($72.82 million, 74.51%), Belize ($14.36 million, 14.69%), and Brazil ($6.30 million, 6.44%); together these three countries accounted for 95.55 percent of the US papaya import market that year (UN Comtrade 2012).

Although Singapore is the second largest papaya importer, papaya imports to Singapore declined 17.91 percent between 2002 and 2009, after peaking in 2003 at about 27,536 t. The main papaya exporters to the Singapore market and their share of the export value were Malaysia ($4.77 million, 90.31%), the Philippines ($0.35 million, 6.80%), and Thailand ($0.11 million, 2.12%); together these three countries accounted for 99.23 percent of the Singapore papaya import market that year (UN Comtrade 2012).

Canada is the third largest papaya importer. Canadian imports of the fruit increased more than twofold, from 5,624 t in 2002 to 13,230t in 2009. The main papaya exporters to the Canadian market and their share of the export value during 2009 were the United States ($4.25 million, 27.41%), Belize ($3.74 million, 24.32%), and Mexico ($3.04 million, 19.70%); together these three countries accounted for 71.43 percent of the Canadian papaya import market that year (UN Comtrade 2012). In 2003, Canada became the first country to approve the import of GM papayas from Hawaii after their nutritional composition, toxicological implications, and allergenic potential were carefully examined by the Canadian regulatory authorities.


Concluding Remarks

Recent gains in global papaya production are mainly the result of India’s significant increase in harvested area and fruit yield; it remains to be seen how much India will expand papaya cultivation in the coming years. Papaya production from the other top producing countries is expected to grow based on domestic consumption of the fruit and prices in international markets.

Global papaya exports are expected to slow down in the near future because the upward trend in fruit yield has not completely offset the downward trend in harvested area. In contrast, domestic consumption in the main export markets is expected to rise due to stronger economic conditions and less stringent quality requirements.

The mainstream commercialization of GM papaya in domestic and international markets is just a matter of time. Several countries have already developed GM papaya cultivars and are working on regulatory issues to release the new PRSV resistant cultivars, while other countries are still in the field testing stage of new PRSV-resistant GM papaya cultivars. The public release and commercialization of these new cultivars will have to overcome barriers such as regulatory procedures, intellectual property rights, and consumer perception.

The United States is currently the largest papaya importer because of its high per-capita income, and sizable Asian and Hispanic populations. Additional promotional efforts on the health and nutritional benefits of papaya consumption are needed to increase consumption of the fruit among the US white- and African-American populations.


Table 1.

Global papaya production, 2002–2010 (metric tonnes [t])



Democratic Republic of the Congo210,305212,180214,070215,980217,900219,840221,800223,777225,7722.12
Source: FAOSTAT (2012a, 2012b).



Table 2.

Global papaya exports, 2002–2009 (metric tonnes [t])



United States7,1067,0469,78910,7043,5869,6049,0318,0903.3
Source: FAOSTAT (2012a, 2012b).


Table 3.

Mexico: Papaya production and exports, 2006–2010

YearArea Harvested








Source: SIAP (2012); FAOSTAT (2012a, 2012b).



Table 4.

Brazil: Papaya production and exports, 2006–2010

YearArea Harvested








Source: IBRAF (2012b); FAOSTAT (2012a, 2012b).



Table 5.

Belize: Papaya production and exports, 2006–2010

YearArea Harvested








*Decline due to Hurricane Dean in 2007.

Source: SIB (2012); FAOSTAT (2012a, 2012b).



Table 6.

Global papaya imports, 2002–2009 (metric tonnes [t])



United States88,559101,868126,024116,045132,175138,115124,330156,43054.6
United Kingdom8,03111,40611,10810,3119,3128,5888,3358,2823.3
Hong Kong24,99128,64925,97221,68817,2629,8008,3065,3813.1
El Salvador2,3602,0281,9893,2173,5745,0805,7517,0702.3
Source: FAOSTAT (2012b).



Requirements for export and quality assurance

Export grading: Grading should be carried out as soon as possible after harvest, and fruit left under ambient conditions to continue ripening or placed at 10° to 12°C for cooling and storage. On arrival in the packing facility, fruit should be washed in water to remove latex and debris then treated in a 0.05% Thiabendazole solution for anthracnose control. Washing, treatment and grading can be carried out using mechanized or manual systems depending on the volumes of fruits. Grading in each carton is required in terms of size, sex (shape) and stage of ripeness. Female and hermaphrodite fruit cannot be mixed in the same carton; all fruits must be of a similar size in each carton resulting in a range of counts, and separations must be made for the degree of ripeness. Carton net weight is dependent on the importer, ranging from 3.5 to 5 kg (8 to 11 lbs), and must not be overfilled during packing (Medlicott, 2001).


Quality Criteria: Pawpaw should be exported with the required size and stage of ripeness (as defined in the market specifications) with sufficient yellow peel and orange or red pulp coloration, free from bruises, blemishes, insect and spray damage and uniform in size and ripeness within each carton (Medlicott, 2001). Export Criteria: Pawpaws intended for export are carefully graded by size and stage of ripeness. Fruit should be uniform in size and ripeness and be free from bruises, blemishes, and insect damage. Most importers also require that pawpaw be mostly yellow and have a uniform softness; a smooth, unblemished skin; and a minimum sugar content of 12 °Brix. When harvested, pawpaw is green with a stripe of yellow at their base; they ripen during transport or are commercially ripened on arrival. As pawpaw ripens, skin colour changes from green to yellow, and the fruit becomes softer and develops a fruity aroma. Pawpaw are normally sold to consumers when they are at least one-quarter ripe. Optimal ripeness occurs at the three-quarter stage, when the fruit bears a yellow-orange peel and an orange-red pulp. Peel colour may vary from yellow to reddish-orange, depending on the variety of pawpaw.

Three Hawaiian varieties —Solo Sunrise, Kapoho, and Waimanalo— are the most popular, and Solo Sunrise is the most important in world trade.

Pawpaw of all three varieties are relatively small, normally weighing from 250 to 500 grams. Some countries are beginning to produce and export several Taiwanese varieties, which tend to be larger than those from Hawaii. Some markets require very large, local varieties of pawpaw. In the Latin market in the United States, for example, pawpaw weigh about 3 kilograms. Fruit shape is not a function of variety but of the sex of the plant the fruit grows on. Round fruit comes from a female plant, and traditional pear-shaped fruit comes from a hermaphrodite plant. Because the market prefers pear-shaped fruit, female plants are normally removed from production as soon as their sex is known. Pawpaw are harvested by hand alone or with knives or specialized tools, depending on the size and age of the tree. When harvesting pawpaw by hand or with knives, harvesters snap or cut the stem directly adjacent to the tree and immediately trim it flush against the top of the fruit. To reach fruit at the top of tall trees, harvesters use a long pole with a small hoop and a small, mesh bag at the end. Above the hoop sits a horizontal blade, which the harvester positions below the stem of the fruit and moves upward to detach the pawpaw from the tree and catch it in the mesh bag below. Two or three fruits are collected at a time in this manner. Bags should be shallow to prevent overfilling and should be made of a soft material to prevent damage to the pawpaw skin. After harvest, the fruit are placed gently —never thrown or dropped— in single layers in shallow, light-coloured plastic field crates, preferably with a foam layer for cushioning. Mesh bags, sacks, or baskets are unacceptable for pawpaw transport because of the fruit’s high susceptibility to bruising. Care should be taken during transport to minimize jostling of the fruit, and all stems should be trimmed to ensure that no stem-to-fruit rubbing occurs. Prior to collection, field crates and fruit should be left in shaded conditions, protected from the sun and rain. Grading and packing should be carried out as soon as possible after harvest, normally within three hours, after which time the fruit should be kept at ambient tropical conditions (25°C to 28°C) to continue ripening, or cooled and stored at 10°C to 12°C. Standard packing house design and operations apply for pawpaw grading and packing. Operations can be carried out with basic equipment, including water tanks, field crates, and grading tables, or with automated washing and weight-grading or separation systems. All tanks and grading tables should be covered with foam to protect fruit from exposed edges; the skin of the pawpaw is delicate, and scratches will result in latex exudation and staining. Similarly, if the fruit is dropped, it will easily develop bruises as it ripens (Market. A.G, 2002, Smith et al., 1992).


Market requirements

Storage and Transportation

Importers require fruit at specific stages of ripeness for optimum sales; this varies between 50 and 70% yellow colour depending on the importer, the market and the time of year. For fruit to arrive in the importing country at the correct colour stage, attention has to be paid to the maximum and minimum colour stages on departure from the pack house, the length of the shipment period (24 hours when considering UK, Canada and USA, and 48 hours for Holland) and the temperature in the importing country. Thus, colour stages on departure from the pack house for air shipment can vary from 20% to 50%, and the selections are generally more rigid during the summer months due to the rapid rates of ripening on arrival in importing countries. fruit exported too green (less than 20% yellow colour) will fail to ripen adequately when temperatures in importing countries are low, particularly in winter months. Sea-shipment of pawpaw is possible when fruits are shipped at the optimum harvest maturity, with one or two yellow streaks. Shipments should be made at 10 to 12°C and 85 to 95% relative humidity, in refrigerated holds or reefer containers. Post-harvest disease control is critical with sea-shipment, particularly anthracnose and Phytophthora. Colour development during sea-shipment usually increases from 10% to 40% during 10 days at 12°C, and will develop further during the customs, clearance and delivery period on arrival. Importers require fruit at specific stages of ripeness for optimum sales; this varies between 50 and 70% yellow colour depending on the importer, the market and the time of year. For fruit to arrive in the importing country at the correct colour stage, attention has to be paid to the maximum and minimum colour stages on departure from the packhouse, the length of the shipment period (24 hours when considering UK, Canada and USA, and 48 hours for Holland) and the temperature in the importing country. Thus, colour stages on departure from the packhouse for air shipment can vary from 20% to 50%, and the selections are generally more rigid during the summer months due to the rapid rates of ripening on arrival in importing countries. fruit exported too green (less than 20% yellow colour) will fail to ripen adequately when temperatures in importing countries are low, particularly in winter months. Fruit harvested and placed to ripen at the recommended harvest stage (one yellow stripe) will ripen to 60 to 70% yellow coloration within four to six days under ambient tropical conditions (25° to 28°C). Fruit transferred to low temperature storage (10° to 12°C), when harvested at the one-stripe stage, will store successfully for 14 to 21 days if post-harvest disease incidence can be controlled. When harvested at more advanced stages of ripening, the storage life will be significantly reduced (Medlicott, 2001).

Packing and packaging materials

Packaging practices

Package or packaging is the material used to protect, contain or transport a fruit. A package can also be a material that is physically attached to a product or its container for the purposes of marketing. Packing material is generally used to preserve, transport, inform about as an aid while using the fruit it contains. Solo Sunrise pawpaw, the most popular variety, are packed in single-layer cartons, each with a net weight of 4 kilograms to 5 kilograms, depending on importer and importing-country requirements. Internal packaging materials can include shredded paper in the base of the carton and individual tissue wraps for each or every other fruit. Pawpaw may be individually labelled for appearance and easy recognition. Pawpaw are best packed on their sides, in rows, with the stem ends at an angle; interlocking rows support one another. Pawpaw should not be packed on their bases because they soften from the base up. Packers should guard against overfilling the cartons.

Importers require pawpaw at specific stages of ripeness for optimal sales. Stages vary from 50 to 70 percent yellow depending on importer, market, and time of year. In order for fruit to arrive in the importing country at the correct colour stage, exporters must be aware of the fruit’s maximum and minimum colour stages upon its departure from the packing house, the length of the shipment period (for air shipment, 24 to 48 hours), and the temperature in the importing country. Colour stages for air shipments can vary from 20 to 50 percent, with selections generally being more rigid during the summer months because of accelerated ripening rates on arrival in importing countries. Fruits that are exported at less than 20 percent yellow will fail to ripen adequately when temperatures in importing countries are low, particularly during winter (Hawaii Pride, 2002).

Transportation system

Based on the transit and storage life, a recommendation is made. Since many tropical products like pawpaw are high value and traded in small quantities, they are often shipped by air, even when surface transportation could be used. (USDA, 2002). Although the UK market for pawpaw is expanding at a leisurely pace, efforts to increase it by shipping volumes by sea have proved unsuccessful due that the product doesn’t respond well to this type of transit. (PGA, 1999). Marketing and physical distribution of fresh produce inherently means moving the produce. The commodities are handled, either manually or mechanically, many times from harvest and through the distribution process before the consumer buys and prepares them to eat. For domestic transportation the use of road vehicles offers substantial advantages of convenience, availability, flexibility permitting door-to-door delivery, and reasonable cost of transport. The use of road transportation for fresh produce is increasing and likely to increase in countries all over the world. Produce may be transported by pick-up, enclosed truck, open truck or refrigerated vehicle. (Harris, 1988). For perishable products, however, the increased speed of handling and reduced transport costs that came with containerization were not enough. Ocean transport of cooled and frozen cargo received a substantial boost with development of mobile refrigerated cargo ships that lack this flexibility. Controlled atmosphere (CA) technologies allow operators to lower the respiration rate of produce by monitoring oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen levels within a reefer. In this way, CA can slow ripening, retard discoloration, and maintain freshness of pawpaw. Although it is likely that container ships will dominate the perishable trade between North America, East Asia and Europe, conventional refrigerated vessels can serve many smaller ports, especially in the developing world, that are unable to handle large container vessels. Thus, in north-south trade and in certain niche markets, conventional refrigerated ships may have a brighter future, but even here, competition from container vessels is bound to increase as cost decline (Agricultural Outlook, 1999).



Essentially a prime table fruit, pawpaw pulp is perfectly suited for conversion to juices. Processing of freeze pawpaw juice, nectars, drinks, jams, fruit cheese, concentrates or to be had by itself or with cream as a superb dessert. It can also be used in puddings, bakery fillings, and fruit meals for children, flavours for food industry, and also to make the most delicious ice cream and yoghurt. While the raw fruits are utilized for products like chutney, pickle, sauce. pawpaw beverage, etc. ripe ones are used in making pulp, juice, nectar (Table 6), squash, leather, slices, etc. Major export products include dried and preserved vegetables, jams, fruit jellies, canned fruits and vegetables, dehydrated vegetables, frozen fruits, vegetables and pulps and freeze dried products. Ripe pawpaw may be frozen whole or peeled, sliced and packed in sugar (1-part sugar to 10 parts pawpaw by weight) and quick-frozen in moisture-proof containers. The diced flesh of ripe pawpaw, bathed in sweetened or unsweetened lime-juice, to prevent discoloration, can be quick-frozen. Half-ripe or green pawpaw are peeled and sliced as filling for pie, used for jelly, or made into sauce.