PAPAYAS (Carica papaya) in Malaysia, before the advent of Eksotika, were very inconsistent in yield and generally had very poor eating qualities. Popular varieties then were Sitiawan, Batu Arang and Subang and their fruit size were large and inconvenient to handle and serve. Papayas were grown mainly for domestic consumption and export was insignificant. Breeding for Eksotika In 1972, MARDI started a backcross breeding programme for improving papayas. The Sunrise Solo which has excellent eating qualities but with poor yield and small fruit, was introduced from Hawaii. It was crossed with the locally adapted, large-fruited Subang 6. Subsequent progenies underwent a series of ‘self-pollination’ and backcrossing to Sunrise Solo to reconstitute its excellent eating qualities while selecting for larger fruit size of the Subang 6. After 15 years of breeding and selection, a line called ‘Backcross Solo’ with the features of Sunrise Solo but with increased fruit size and local adaptability of Subang 6 was selected. In1987, it was released as the ‘Eksotika’. The Eksotika had shortcomings in fruit freckles, soft texture and sensitivity to environmental stress. Eksotika was crossed with its sister line (Line 19) which was resistant to freckles and had better keeping qualities. The resultant F1 hybrid was more robust, higher yielding and had much improved fruit cosmetics and keeping quality. This hybrid named ‘Eksotika II’ was released in 1991. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I write about the potential for export of exotica papaya.
Technology package for Technology package for Eksotika One of the major reasons for successful adoption of Eksotika was the development of component technologies like agronomic requirements, P&D (Pest and Desease Management) and post harvest needs to give a complete technology package to the industry. The nutritional requirement for optimal growth and fruit production was determined through comprehensive field trials analysis and critical nutrient deficiency symptoms, in particular boron, were resolved. There were initial problems with pest, disease and weed management and all these were adequately controlled with appropriate use of agrochemicals and integrated pest management programme. Knowing and giving what the crop wants had helped tremendously in building up confidence in investing in cultivation of Eksotika papaya.
Commercialization of Eksotika Getting Eksotika to the market requires efficient post-harvest management and this includes knowledge of the optimum time to harvest (maturity indices) and ripening behaviour of the fruit during storage. Packaging using corrugated fibre board boxes holding a net weight of 6 kg was developed. This is the best packaging in terms of economy, efficiency and cosmetic appeal for the export of Eksotika. Early export of Eksotika was entirely by air which was very expensive and also has limitation in cargo space. Research on the use of refrigerated reefers for cheaper export by sea was successful and today more than 50% of the export of Eksotika to Hong Kong is done this way. The road to commercialization of Eksotika was not entirely smooth in the beginning. Up scaling projects with more receptive, innovative and enterprising companies scored significant success. The Eksotika fruits started to make inroads into previously untapped markets like Hong Kong, China, Middle East countries and Europe.
Many growers started to emulate the success of these companies and the acreage and export of Eksotika climbed at a very rapid rate to become the most important export fruit in the country today. Getting Eksotika successfully to the market was in some ways helped by the quality standards set by SIRIM and monitoring compliance of standards of exported fruits by FAMA. In supply of planting materials, MARDI produces high quality, affordably- priced Eksotika seeds under an ISO 9001 certification. Eksotika papaya for the world The advent of Eksotika had given the fruit industry a dramatic boost, particularly in generation of export earnings. In 1986, the year before Eksotika was released, the export revenue of papaya was a mere RM3 million. The export revenue climbed steadily every year since then and today it has passed the RM100 million mark. The Eksotika is the flagship variety exported both by refrigerated sea reefers and air freight to its major market in Hong Kong and China. The export trade to Singapore, the Middle East countries and Europe is also increasing. Malaysia currently is the second most important exporter of papaya in the world, thanks to the research in developing a complete technology package for Eksotika. Thanks.
Bukit Mambai Fruits Farm
(5 Rejab 1436H).