Green papaya, commonly known as kacha pepe in Bangladesh, is a common item in Bengali cuisine. It can be found in the form of a vegetable or a fruit. Unripe green papaya is consumed as a vegetable. Curries with shrimp and hilsha fish are among the popular food items made with green papaya. Dessert items like halwa are also made with green papaya. Green papaya is not only a favourite ingredient in Bengali cuisine but is also a powerhouse of nutrients.
Green papaya is a great source of Vitamin C, E and A. One of the most significant nutritional benefits of green papaya is its ability to cure menstrual pain. Consuming a mixture of papaya leaves with tamarind and salt along with water helps relieve women of menstrual pain. Green papaya is also beneficial for curing acne, skin infections and wounds as well. Green papaya controls flow of blood, and helps maintain proper blood pressure. It regulates harmful sodium effects in the body—thus providing protection against heart diseases. Green papaya is very useful in staying fit as well. The presence of antioxidants helps to burn calories and extra fat deposits. Green papaya contains two very powerful enzymes called papain and chymopapain, which help in the breakdown of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates, thus helping acquire a healthy metabolism.
Md Selim Hossain, a papaya farmer from Tirerhat, Jashore, shares his experience of growing this vegetable. He shares that papaya grows well in a tropical, warm climate where the level of humidity and temperature is high. Though they can grow in a variety of soils, rich, sandy loam soil is usually ideal for papaya plantation. Initially, the saplings are sowed 15 days after ploughing the land. Fertilisers such as TSP, urea and potash are applied in the land twice every month at an interval of 15 days. Pesticides such as antracol and indofil are applied once or twice a month. The fruits are collected two months after the plant’s maturity, at an interval of three days. Only the green papayas are harvested. Md Selim says that good harvest of green papaya can be obtained for 8-9 months of the year.
Md Selim, along with many farmers of the area, provides vegetables for Shwapno under the Shuddho project. According to Selim, this initiative has helped him adopt the right agricultural practices for growing green papaya, especially in terms of learning about how much fertiliser or pesticide should be used. Farmers also have an opportunity to learn about the interval period between pesticide application and harvesting, known as the Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI).
Green papaya is a very effective source of nutrients and vitamins that is good for health and wellness. So, the next time you catch a glimpse of green papaya in the vegetable section, do not forget to grab it and put it in your basket!