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Hi-Pro introduces new virus-resistant papaya

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Hi-Pro introduces new virus-resistant papaya

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A new strain of papaya, from the Pandia seeds distributed by Hi-Pro, has proven to be resistant to the Papaya Ringspot virus, which has been affecting most local crops in recent times.

The Apache F1 papaya is a large specimen, weighing between four and seven pounds per fruit. The fruit is firm and sweet and, according to Cecil Robe, the farmer who cultivated this first crop, the fruit matured two months in advance of the expected date.

“The seeds were planted in May of 2019 and, by the end of February 2020, were ready for reaping,” said Robe.

Hi-Pro showcased the first batch of the Apache F1 hybrid papaya from its line of Pandia seeds at the recent Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show in Trelawny.

“It has high yield under hot tropical conditions, with extended post-harvest life because of its firm flesh. The Apache F1 is significant for farmers’ sustainability because of its disease tolerance,” Rohan Lewis, technical sales agronomist at Hi-Pro, explained.

Robe, who farms papaya, coffee, yam, bananas and peppers on 15 acres of land near Albert Town in the hills of Trelawny, has been growing Solo Sunrise papayas, available on the supermarket shelves, since 2010. He is optimistic that the new Apache F1 hybrid papaya should do well, particularly with agro-processors who could utilise the flesh for beverages and purées. In addition, he noted that the new species of papaya would be ideal for coloured dried fruits used in local buns, cakes and other pastries.

“I have always been interested in modern management practices and how to gain high yields through improved efficiencies, having learnt these skills as a farm supervisor with the Coffee Industry Board. So when Hi-Pro asked me to test the Pandia seeds, I looked at all the variables,” he said.

“I decided to plant the trees grown from the Pandia seeds further apart than the Solo Sunrise strain, because the Pandia trees begin to fruit at three feet high and have a wider canopy, compared to the other species, which begin to bear at four feet,” he noted.

Being resistant to disease and, based on the size of the fruit produced, Robe said, with marketing and promotion, the new Apache F1 could become a sustainable staple in the hotel industry. “Papaya is widely recognised for being an excellent digestive aid and a key ingredient in fruit smoothies, which are popular at the hotels. So the Apache F1 has very positive implications for this sector,” he continued.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was guest speaker at the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show – and an self-professed papaya lover, was presented with an Apache F1 papaya during his tour of the Hi-Pro booth.

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