MARADONA: Philippine-Bred Papaya Makes Waves In Mexico

Papaya grower David Ulises in his Maradona field together with Enrique Vasquez, a papaya expert and East-West Seed employee in Mexico.

A papaya variety bred in the Philippines is making waves in Mexico, according to Ric Reyes, a ranking executive of East-West Seed which develops hybrid vegetables and other high-value crops.

The papaya variety is called Maradona which has become a favorite of farmers in Mexico for very good reasons. For one, it is claimed to be resistant to the anthracnose and papaya ring spot diseases which are a destructive diseases of papaya and many other fruit crops.

Another reason is that the fruits which are medium size (1 to 1.5 kg) have thick rind hence long shelf life and very good shipping quality. Moreover it is also high-yielding and has red orange flesh with excellent sweet taste, according to Reyes.

The Maradona is semi-dwarf so that harvesting is easy. According to Reyes, the previous varieties that the Mexican farmers planted were tall so that they had to use a ladder to harvest the fruits.

Mexican farmer David Ulises who has a 24-hectare papaya plantation in Yucatan, is shown with Herke van der Woude.

Herke van der Woude, business development manager of East-West Seed in Latin America, disclosed that Mexico is a huge market for papaya where 14,000 hectares of the fruit crop are planted. The harvests are marketed not only in Mexico but also in the United States and Canada.

Van der Woude said that the Maradona papaya is a good example of how East-West Seed benefits from the heritage in local markets. With its extensive breeding programs in Southeast Asia, the company is able to translate the success of local varieties to other places in the world.

East-West Seed has also opened up other niche markets in Latin America. The company is an important supplier of seeds of Asian Vegetables. “We started with this 10 years ago in Mexico, where a lot of Asian vegetables are grown for export to the US and Canada where large groups of Asian minorities are living. This is a niche market in which East-West has a leading position,” said Van der Woude who is based in Guatemala.

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