THE absence of pests and diseases in pawpaw exports makes locally-produced fruits attractive to overseas markets, says Nature's Way CEO Michael Brown.
"The most notable papaya disease that is absent from Fiji is papaya ring spot virus, a pest that decimated the Hawaii papaya industry," he said.
The virus became established in Hawaii in 1992 resulting in a slump in pawpaw exports from the US state from 18,500 tonnes in 1990 to 9600 tonnes in 2002.
Mr Brown said apart from nil recording of the virus, Fiji Red also scored highly with the nil presence of the Pacific fruit fly — a pest synonymous with locally produced pawpaw.
"Papaya is regarded as a host to the Pacific fruit fly or bactrocera passiflorae, hence the need to use quarantine treatment for papaya exported from Fiji to Australia and New Zealand.
"However, there are no records of the pest infesting fruit at the colour break to half ripe stage in papaya that is exported from Fiji."
Mr Brown said fruit flies were not a production pest for pawpaw in Fiji and this contrasted to the situation in Hawaii and Australia where fruit flies caused major issues in pawpaw production, resulting in costly on-farm control measures being undertaken.