SAVE OUR PAPAYAS

According to Christopher Colombus, Papaya is “The Fruit of the Angels”. It is the fruit of the plant Carica Papaya. According to numerous researches, they came from Mexico and from there they have been disseminated round the world mainly in the Tropics by the great travellers of Western Centuries.
In Mauritius it is a very popular fruit which can be found in nearly all areas of the Island. One can find Papaya plants in the middle of cane fields or even in the remotest part of the Country. It has been introduced in Mauritius in the same way like the coconut and many other plants by the Dutch.
Papaya is one of the rare fruits that we can enjoy all year round with a peak time during the summer. My late Grandmother was a great cook from whom I have learned since my tender years the benefits of Papayas and its tree. She used to say that green papayas:
1. Can be used to tenderise meat;
2. As a substitute for Cucumber in Pacheri (sort of “raita” which is famous in South Indian Cuisine) provided it is well washed to take out all the ‘latex milk’ out of the green Papaya;
3. For Chutney and Achard;
4. For curry provided it is well washed.

And also for the leaves
The tender leaves, especially after cyclones, are cooked like we prepare our “brede malbar” or for others our “brede national”. The green leaves can be used to wash clothes as well. If you want to modernise its use, scissor the leaves and put them in your washing machine.
Seeds
As far as the seeds are concerned, my old grandmother whom I affectionately called “L’Autre” was right. She used to keep the seeds and crushed them in her old “pilon” to be used as a substitute for pepper.
Ripe ones
Ripe papayas can be consumed as the entire fruit even with the skin provided it is ripe and properly washed. It can also be consumed as marmalade, jam, salad and  juice. Papayas are:
1.  A storehouse of vitamins and nutrients;
2. Rich in fibres and vitamins;
3. Good antioxidants;
4. Good for diabetics;
5. Good from preventing your vision from degenerating;
6. Improve ingestion;
7. Prevents cancer;
8. Helps reduce stress;
9. And for so many other uses that even science is puzzled.

But since early 2013, we have seen a net reduction of the papayas in all households following a vicious attacks by bugs. The help of the World Health Organisation was sought by the Ministry of Agro Industry but to not avail. The French Government was contracted for help, but still, we have not made much headway. And the decimation continues in front of our eyes.
Papaya plants are being destroyed by their owners as they are causing distress to other plants. Papaya plants which are cultivated whether by planters or household owners are being destroyed.
The prices of papayas have rocketed. “Martins” and other birds are no longer in competition as there are no more ripe papayas available. But surprisingly the papaya trees that grow out naturally are not affected. Why? No studies have been carried out up to now to seek what are the reasons behind its “protection”.
We are witnessing the withering of papayas in our Republic and like cowards we are restraining from any concerted actions. Soon the only ways to taste a papaya will be either of you travel abroad or if we start importing them.
The next generation might not be lucky enough to taste that delicious sweet fruit with musky undertones fruit which is as soft as “ custard” and which remains in the mouth long after with a nice after-taste. Yes papayas will no more be there…And the only way to remember papayas trees in Mauritius is to go down memory lane and visit Plaines des Papayes which has the honours harbouring that fruit.
So please Minister, do your utmost best to save our papayas. Precautions must be taken for Rodrigues which is the only county which is host to giant papayas with only three seeds… lest we forget…


Commentaires

Very very interesting and informing article. The Minister of Agriculture must "azir". "Frisiter" also need our close attention!!! In fact, in Mauritius we have many many fruits and the government can organise their culture on a large scale throughout the country with the participation of all Mauritians. Fruits are delicious and very good for our health and if we grow them locally, we can develop an important fruit economy.