Have you tried the Red Lady yet?
A young farmer in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, is smiling all the way to the market. He has cultivated a bountiful crop of Red Lady papaya, also known as the Taiwanese papaya, which is proving to be a profitable venture.
Rajesh Khandelwal 25 May 2023 6:36 AM GMT
Indian cooking is incomplete without papaya which is widely consumed both in raw and ripe forms. Whereas raw papaya makes for an ideal salad or chutney, the ripe fruit is considered a perfect breakfast fruit as it helps clear the stomach.
A new variety of papaya, the Red Lady Papaya, also known as the Taiwanese papaya, which is slowly becoming popular in India. This variety grows faster and is sweeter than the local fruit varieties available in the market.
Red Lady Papaya is also bringing prosperity to farmers due to its high return on investment. And 25-year-old Tejveer Singh is one such happy farmer.
A couple of years ago, the resident of Vijaypura village in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, took a major decision to ditch cultivation of traditional food grain crops and adopt modern ones, and the Taiwanese papaya was one of his first experiments.
The young farmer, who owns 50 bighas of land (1 bigha = 0.25 ha), is cultivating watermelons in three bighas, chillies in six bighas, mustard in 35 bighas and Red Lady in about five bighas. He considers the Taiwanese Papaya to be his trophy crop which he has intercropped with cauliflower, tomatoes and marigold flowers.
Also Read: Farmers in Rajasthan grow pomegranates that are in high demand in the Gulf
His expenses to sow, grow, fertilise and harvest the papaya, watermelon, cauliflower, tomatoes and chillies is about three to four lakh rupees. “But by selling the intercropping produce, I have already earned five to six lakh rupees,” a pleased Tejveer told Gaon Connection.
“There are about 1,500 Taiwanese papaya trees in my land, and I can get anything from 50 kgs to a quintal from each tree. Even if I do not get that kind of yield, I will still sell papayas and make a profit of 15 to 20 lakh rupees,” the farmer added.
“Until two years ago I was using the traditional methods of farming to cultivate mustard and wheat. I rarely broke even, let alone earn a profit,” Tejveer recalled. “I worked so hard on my land, invested so much into it, yet at the end of the day when I calculated my earnings, it was no more than a pittance,” he added.
The 25-year-old farmer has a Bachelors in Veterinary Science from Kota, Rajasthan, but he could never go out and practise because he lost his father to cancer in 2018 and his grandfather was paralysed. So, he said, he decided to stay home and work on his family’s 50 bighas of land.
Tejveer said that he learnt about the Taiwanese papaya from social media, after which he consulted some agricultural experts and scientists in Bharatpur.
Also Read: Virus Alert: Papayas in Barabanki and Sitapur succumb to a ringspot virus
“They advised me to get the soil of my land tested, and when I found out that my land lacked several nutrients, I worked on that. After three months, my land was ready to receive the Red Lady,” Tejveer said smilingly.
He bought the seeds for the Taiwanese papaya at Jaipur paying Rs 40,000, and prepared the Red Lady saplings himself. The seeds cost approximately Rs 4.5 lakh a kg.
Tejveer used the low tunnel (small portable greenhouses) to protect the saplings from frost and the blistering sun, besides drip irrigation for efficiently irrigating them. He also practises intercropping.
“The marigolds protect the roots of the papaya plant from Nematodes (pests). I grow so many different varieties that even if one or two of the crops fail, I have others to fall back on,” he said.
Tejveer sells the Red Lady papayas in Bharatpur and other neighbouring districts.
“The market often is flooded with papayas from Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh that are usually artificially ripened and are not that sweet either. The Red Lady ripens naturally and is very sweet,” he said.
About two dozen interested farmers have visited Tejveer’s farm to learn more about the Red Lady from him.
“I was guided on how to cultivate the Red Lady by Tejveer. I am perhaps the first who has taken inspiration from him and started cultivating the Taiwanese papaya in five bighas of my land,” Shekhar Singh, a farmer from Utarda village in Bharatpur district, told Gaon Connection.
“This Red Lady papaya is best suited to the climate and topography of Bharatpur,” Janakraj Meena, deputy director, Horticulture department, told Gaon Connection. “A bigha of land can easily hold more than 300 trees, with each of them yielding 50 to 100 kgs of fruit a year,” he added. A bigha of land can earn the farmer about three to four lakh rupees a year, he pointed out.
According to Meena, there are several schemes offered by the horticulture department to progressive farmers like Tejveer.
Tejveer has adopted several techniques such as drip irrigation, mulching and low tunnels for which he received 75 per cent subsidies. There are also regular training sessions for farmers who are still using traditional farming techniques.
“They are encouraged to learn and adopt progressive methods of farming through these workshops and they are also taken to visit such farms where new methods have yielded rich dividends,” Harendra Singh, agriculture officer, Bharatpur, told Gaon Connection.