Hot water for papaya

THREE years of research by Nature’s Way Co-operative in Nadi has resulted in a solution to reducing post-harvest rot for export papayas.

Co-op CEO Michael Brown said the study conducted in association with the Australian Centre for International Agriculture-funded Fiji Papaya Project was addressing an issue that had plagued exporters and affected income.

“Papaya exporters and importers currently lose about 10 per cent of potential income to post-harvest rot and this figure increases in very wet years or in times of natural disasters,” Mr Brown said.

“We have identified hot water dips as an effective treatment to reduce disease incidence and severity from 10 per cent to around 1 per cent.”

The results of the study will soon be implemented in export fruit treatment thanks to a grant from New Zealand Aid.

“The grant will provide for two mobile hot water units, which each have the capacity to treat 400kg of papaya at a time in the existing treatment bins.”

Mr Brown said a series of tests to refine the treatment process and establish appropriate costs for exporters were in progress.

“It is envisioned that the hot water treatment units will be commercially operational by the start of Fiji’s wet season in November 2014.”

Papaya exports are expected to bounce back this year after the impact on the industry from the two floods and Tropical Cyclone Evan in 2012.