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Meet the Kerala farmer who Earns 7 Lakhs per year from I acre of Red Lady Papaya cultivation

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Paulson in his Papaya Farm

Paulson, who lives in Puthenchira of Trichur district of Kerala, is involved in the Red Lady Variety of Papaya cultivation after coming back to Kerala after being abroad working for many years. He has been cultivating Papayas, Nendran, Yams, Nutmeg, Seasonal vegetables in summer since the past 5 Years. Papaya was found to be the best for cultivating in his conditions and he is only getting better with the finer aspects of papaya cultivation, says Paulson.

Papaya plants come in three forms, Male, female and Bisexual. The Male plants can be eliminated as they don’t produce fruits. Female trees require male trees for pollination and 1 Male tree per 10 female ones are maintained in an orchard. Bisexual trees are self-pollinating.  The only problem here being buying seedlings every year or spending money to buy good seeds. The seeds are imported from Taiwan.

Initially, Papayas were planted along with other intercrops in 3 acres. In 3 acres he has planted 500 plants. But now analyzing his profits in this cultivation, he has moved on to cultivating them in 1 acre all alone and has planted 700 plants. He talks to the editor Agriculture World, Dr Lakshmi and emphasizes on the cultivation practices which he has been following and the steps taken to maximize the profits in Papaya cultivation.

Papaya Farming

The Red Lady plants are bought from a nearby nursery and planted in half a metre of pits where a mixture of FYM: 1.5 Kg, Neem Khali: 250g, Pseudomonas: 10 g and some garden soil is mixed and kept. The best time to plant is February 15-March15. Care should be taken to ensure that there should be no water logging and so he raises a mound where it is transplanted to prevent water logging. Friable soil rich in Organic matter is the best for papaya cultivation. Papaya tree care is the best when in open sun conditions. It is always better to have papaya plantations in open spaces rather than shaded, because in shaded areas they have a tendency to become tall and when in windy and rainy conditions they will break and harvesting is an issue. A Spacing of 3m/3m is to be given between plants in the orchard. Adequate care has to be taken when planting from the First month to the Fifth month adequate fertilization of the above said mixture is to be supplemented. From the Third month the flowering will start and the Fifth month fruiting will start.

In the Fifth month he gives some extra potash to the plants by giving chicken manure and ground nut cake. In the Fifth month he reiterates upon stopping the solid fertilizers and starting foliar feed right to the roots, because he says there are chances of the roots cracking up if solid fertilizers given. He prepares a mixture of 5 Kg Neem Khali, 10 kg of groundnut cake, 1 basket of Cow dung, Cow urine 10 litres in 50 litres of water. Keep it for three days and take one cup from the mixture and dilute it into 3 litres and spray at the root level. Spraying this mixture at 15 days interval has given huge benefits. 

Paulson in his Papaya Farm

There are incidences of pests and diseases. Adequate care has to be given from the time of transplanting so that we keep diseases at bay. Fungal attack, White fly, Virus and Nematodes are the main problems in papaya plantations says Paulson. To manage Fungus he requests not to keep the same land for planting papayas again and again. He has also planted marigolds in between the papaya plantations to keep them away from nematodes. To keep pests away he makes a solution of Neem oil ½ litre, some washing soap pieces, Garlic: 1 Kg and Bird’s eye Chilli: 1kgalong with a Kilo of Neem Leaves fresh. He advises to take the juice of Garlic, Neem leaves and Chilli and add to the Neem oil and soap mixture and make it up to a litre and dilute it to 30 litres and spray to the leaves at the bottom of the leaves especially.

In the Seventh or Eighth month Paulson says that the fruits can be harvested and the harvest can be continued for 11/2 years. Looking at the Economics each plant can atleast give us 50 kg of fruits. Each kilo will be sold at the minimal rate of 25 Rs/Kg says Paulson. If we look at the Economics for 700 plants it works out to be atleast 1000 rupees Profit for a plant, keep apart 200 for maintenance. This is the least we can get he says, the maximum could be depending on the season for Festivals like Id, Muharram, Ramzan, Onam. Each plant needs a maintenance cost of 200.So At the most minimally Paulson says he would get 7 Lakhs for 700 plants in one Acre. What else profitable than Papayas to start growing, but he also reminds us of the marketing to be taken care. With a steady supply of papayas coming in we need to have our markets ready.

The keeping quality of the Papayas grown under Organic conditions he says is the best when compared to the papaya coming in from the other states. The papayas if removed when there is slight yellowish tinge that could remain for 3 weeks without an issue tough and rigid and could be transported without any issue says Paulson before signing off.

Even though Paulson vouches for Red Lady he also tells us about the disadvantages of having hybrids, the over care they need, the 4 litre of water they need every day and the fertilization requirements and the importance of bringing back Desi Papayas back into glory. We might see him bringing back the Desi Papayas too in the same way he promoted Red Lady. But after all it’s the profitability and the sustainability that matters for the farmers in the long run.


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