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Auckland, New Zealand. As with many little-known Andean fruits, innovative and courageous private researchers in New Zealand have pioneered the production and international export of babaco. Shown here on January 7, 1982, is part of the first-ever export shipment, ready for loading into the temperature-controlled cargo hold of a 747 aircraft bound for Frankfurt, West Germany. (D. Endt)

Chile, and Venezuela are seriously exploiting their commercial potential.18

These plants deserve much more horticultural attention. They could add appreciably to fresh-fruit production in the Andean highlands, and they are generally well suited to the smallholder. The benefits to child nutrition, family income, and general welfare are likely to be significant.

Given adequate quality control, it might be possible to develop both a fresh-fruit export business and an Andean papain-extraction industry. (This enzyme is a low-volume, high-value item with export potential.)

Because highland papayas are so variable and adaptable, it seems likely that types superior to those of today will be discovered or developed. With their great adaptability and high yield these “new” papayas—given genetic selection and improvement—should be a bonanza.

18 In Colonia Tovar, Venezuela (near Caracas), babaco production has become established since two scientists introduced cultivars 20 years ago.

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