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Papaya

Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is one of the most cultivated fruit plants in the world, especially in the tropical and subtropical areas. Papaya is rich in vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds that are beneficial for our health. Ripe fruits can be consumed fresh or processed into drinks, jams, candies, dried and crystallised fruit. The black seeds are also edible and have a sharp, spicy taste.

Nutrition and bioactive compounds

Papaya has a favourable lipid composition that reduces inflammatory problems, protects against thrombogenesis and oxidative stress, and prevents some obesity related complications. Calcium, potassium and magnesium content are high in the pulp as well as in the seeds and leaves. It contains vitamins A, C, E and K as well as pigments (carotenoids). Additionally, papaya contains many amino acids, including all the essential ones.

Papaya also contains variety of phytochemicals: glutathione peroxidase, transferase and reductase, catalase, glucose-6-phospate, phenols, terpenols, alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins and more.

Cultivation

Papaya is herbaceous perennial plant that can grow 12 m high and has a year-round fruit production. Commercial papaya is cultivated in the tropical and subtropical areas because it is sensitive to frost. Even in the subtropical conditions, winter can be too cold for the papaya plants. Nevertheless, cultivation in the greenhouses is well on the way to expand the cultivation also to the colder regions.

Two kinds of papayas are commonly grown. One has sweet, red or orange flesh, and the other has yellow flesh. They are called "red papaya" and "yellow papaw" in Australia, while either kind picked green is called a "green papaya".

Uses

  • Pulp: food and food products, juices.

  • Green papaya fruit and its latex are rich in papain, a protease used for tenderising meat and other proteins.

Market and production

  • Worldwide production in 2020: almost 14 million tonnes, in Africa 1.5 million tonnes (10.7%), Eastern Africa app. 300k tonnes.

  • Main producing countries in the world: India, Dominican Rep., Brazil

  • Main producing countries Africa: Nigeria, Democratic Rep. of the Congo; Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia

  • Production and trade are continually rising, according to the latest FAO statistics data (Food and Agricultural Organization of The United States).