A farmer in Nairobi, Joseph Wanyama, is on a mission to popularize the cultivation of a super-yielding pawpaw variety, which is popular in South Sudan.
The variety yields up to 40 fruits per tree and takes eight months to mature.
Mr. Wanyama who travelled from the young East African country with a handful of seeds, which he distributed to farmers free of charge.
The stock has since run out but Wanyama recommends that farmers who are keen on cultivating the high-yielding variety contact a Mr. Tony Ochieng, who he says has hundreds of seedlings for sale.
Growing pawpaw from seeds
Pawpaw seeds take long to germinate, but germination is not difficult if proper procedures are followed. First the seed should not be allowed to dry out, because this ends up damaging the immature dormant embryo. To break dormancy, the seed must be kept in a cold area (termed “stratification”) for 90 to 120 days. The seed can be stratified in a refrigerator at 0-5°C.
After 3-4 months, the seed should be removed from the refrigerator and sown in well-aerated soil, with a pH of 5.5-7.0 and temperatures of 25-30°C. It takes 18 to 24 days for the root to emerge, which then grows 10 inches before the shoot rises from the seed coat after 50-60 days.
The pawpaw is very difficult to transplant. Pawpaws sucker from the roots, transplanting rootsuckers is extremely difficult and often leads to failure. The rootsuckers generally do not have secondary roots, making the shock of transplant unbearable. Seedling trees, though, can successfully be transplanted. After a successful transplant the pawpaw grows vigorously and is easy to maintain. The key to successful transplanting from the wild:
• Transplant seedlings for best results.
• Keep the roots and soil intact as much as possible.
• Plant in a well-drained site, and keep trees well watered the first year.
• Provide partial shading for the first year or two.