The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) will offer 100,000 high-yielding pawpaw seedlings to youth and women groups in the country to promote agribusiness.
Director Stephen Njoka said at the Kalro Embu centre during a farmers’ training day that the move is in line with Vision 2030 where agriculture-based enterprises should play a critical role in the country’s achieving of middle-income status.
“We are targeting about 100,000 youth groups in 12 counties where this variety can perform. We have identified the groups in Murang’a, Embu, Kirinya, Nyeri, Kiambu and Nakuru.
‘‘Others are Nyandarua, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Laikipia,” he said. Each group will get 1,000 seedlings with the potential of posting 50,000 kilos of pawpaw per year. “Given that each kilo has an average market value of Sh40, it translates to an income of Sh2 million a year per group,” he said.
A pawpaw tree has a production lifespan of five years, hence each group will be guaranteed an income of Sh10 million in the period, he said.
Mr Njoka said the only challenge is lack of adequate land to put the groups into a joint venture, meaning most of the seedlings will be grown by individual farmers belonging to a producer group.
“In the five years, a member in that group is expected to have made at least Sh500,000 from the 50 seedlings availed,” he said.
Programme officer Jayne Gathii said research shows papayas are a fast moving product. Pawpaws are used in the making of jam, salad, pawpaw latex—an ingredient used in the pharmaceutical industry—as well as making detergents.
Pawpaw oil, extracted from seeds, is also used in the beauty industry. Nutritionally, papaws are profiled as low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and C. Its enzymes promote digestion, easing constipation and it is efficient in controlling colon infections and colon cancer.
Ms Gathii said pawpaw trees do not have big shades hence they do not adversely interfere with other farming activities.
“You need not set aside a portion to grow pawpaw trees. You can grow them along the edges of the garden, alongside the compound fence or even near river banks,” she said.
Papayas require warm to hot climates for growth and an altitude below 2,100 meters above sea level, with annual rainfall of about 1,000 millimetres.
The seedlings to be given out will be fully sexed to guarantee high performing stock.