Papayas: delicious, nutritious and income generating!
In 2009, CPAR Tanzania launched Farmers First programs in two districts of Karatu and Bunda. Farmers First programs consist of the formation of farmers’ groups called Farmer Field Schools. They include both men and women who lack access to agricultural education, inputs and trainings.
Together the Farmer Field Schools discussed their household issues of low income and poor nutrition. It was decided that short maturity papaya seedlings are one of the solutions for their households. However, there was an obstacle that needed to be overcome; seedlings have to be raised in dry season but in these villages water is not readily available. To address this water shortage problem, women farmers were trained on the use of drip irrigation that uses locally available materials. They were also trained on topics such as hole digging and manure/compost application, inter and intra row spacing, pest and disease management, harvesting and handling, marketing, seed multiplication and the nutritional value of papaya. Papaya is very nutritious and contains a number of vitamins such as C,A,K,E and potassium which are essential.
Fruit tree nurseries were then established which included these short maturity papaya seedlings with the distribution of 2,000 seedlings to 200 women with an average of 10 seedlings per woman.
Today women in Karatu District are benefiting from papaya fruits. In interviews with women in Kilima Tembo village, they acknowledged that papayas have been beneficial to them and their families. The papayas are being eaten frequently and are also being sold to earn cash to meet immediate household demands, supporting education expenses and sometimes paying for medical bills.
Selina Anael, is 47 years old. She is the mother of two children aged 17 and 15 who are in secondary school, and two children in primary school. She is a member of Umoja Farmer Field School in Kilima Tembo village and one of the women who was supported with papaya seedlings after she had received training from CPAR. Selina started harvesting her papaya in June of 2011.
"I didn’t know I could earn this much cash from just selling fruits, I believed only crops such as pigeon peas and maize are the only crops to stick with for cash. I have been producing those crops for years and the benefit is very low compared to the workload involved. Although it has been a very short time since I started harvesting papaya, I have already earned an incredible amount of cash for school fees and supplies as well as improving our household nutritional status" says Selina.
Papaya fruits fetch a good price at the local market in Karatu and the near-by town called Mto wa mbu, one papaya is sold at 1500 – 3000 Tsh (US $ 1-2). Other farmers have started collecting seeds from those who were supported by CPAR to establish their own papaya tree gardens.
"I believe in the near future all farmers producing papaya will be food secure all year round" concludes Selina.