Other Developing Areas. For cooler parts of the developing world, highland papayas could provide a range of future fruits. Indeed, with their extreme variability, they could become a veritable backyard fruit bazaar for upland villages from Morocco to Papua New Guinea. Like the common papaya in the lowlands, these Andean species and hybrids could provide masses of tasty, nutritious fruits in the highlands. It is likely they would enter local trade and, in time, develop into profitable small-scale or even large-scale domestic and export operations. Before their commercial value can be exploited, however, there is a need to select and develop types that have good and uniform qualities and that can be propagated on a large scale.
Industrialized Regions. Highland papayas may be potential fruits for subtropical and warm-temperate areas of North America, Europe, Japan, and Australasia. However, they require climates that are free from both frosts and excessive summer heat.
These plants can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases, particularly to nematodes, mites, root rot, and viruses. Their climatic requirements and cultural practices for maximum production and best flavor are little known. Thus, considerable horticultural attention is needed before they can be exploited with confidence. Postharvest handling studies would greatly increase their market potential.
Although the fragrance of many of these fruits is instantly appealing, the taste is unusual, often must be acquired, and can be disappointing to consumers expecting a papayalike flavor. Although for simplicity we have called these “highland papayas,” an important strategy in the wider marketing of these species is to create or adopt new names that avoid the papaya image and that allow the fruits to be judged on their own merits.
To create cold-tolerant papayas has been the plant breeder's goal for almost a century. With modern technology, better germplasm collections of Andean species, and old-fashioned persistence, it seems probable that this goal can be achieved.