Malaysia: Papaya planters’ income hit by weather, disease

The Star 16 Aug 16;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Papayas are really not having good days of late.

Papaya farmers like Calvin Choo, 54, claimed that some of them would have to chop down all the trees in their farm due to the disease.

“The virus will take up to two years to clear up,” he said, adding that his farm had been spared so far.

Going by one definition, the disease is characterised by a gradual death of the twigs, branches, shoots, or roots.

Choo said the hot spell had caused his harvest to drop by 30% in the past two months.

“And when the durian season came, the papaya flowers dropped, causing my harvest to be affected again.

“Now the durian season is ending and I believe the supply will return to normal,” he said.

A check in George Town found that papayas had been missing from a number of supermarkets and markets since early last month.

Trader Christina Chin, 35, said the shortage of papayas was due to the durian season.

“We’ve stopped selling papayas for two months now,” she said.

Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow said the bacterial virus had led to a drastic rise in the price of papayas.

“Two weeks ago, it was RM4 per kilo. Now it’s almost RM10 per kilo,” he said yesterday.

State Agriculture Department director Azahar Ibrahim could not be contacted for comment.