Bayer Hawaii partners with Kamiya Papaya: Cultivating papayas for over 50 years

Find Kamiya Papayas at Times Supermarkets across Oahu and Tamashiro Market

Sponsored by Bayer Hawaii

Kamiya Papaya is known for growing the highest quality papayas with flavor, aroma and texture in mind. Back in the 1950’s, it was started by Thomas Kamiya in Kaneohe. He first started working in the dairy industry, moved on to vegetable crops, and finally to papayas with the help of the University of Hawaii’s Dr. Harry Nakasone.

The original Kamiya Papaya was a selection of the “Line 77” introduced by Dr. Nakasone. The “Line 77” was a large round fruit with thick flesh, averaging over three pounds each with some as heavy as four pounds. Although it had excellent eating qualities, the drawbacks at that time were its size and deep star seed avity, which made cleaning out the seeds somewhat difficult. Faced with these drawbacks, Kamiya Papaya selected seeds for smaller and somewhat elongated fruit, and after many fields of trials it finally achieved a selection that bred true in subsequent plantings.

Today, Hawaii is the largest producer of papaya in the United States, representing nearly 80 percent of Hawaii’s papaya industry which generates $14 million in sales each year.

A key contributor to the Hawaii’s economy, the papaya industry has had a profound impact on local agriculture. However, this successful industry came close to collapse in 1992 when the Papaya ringspot virus infected papaya crops in Puna on Hawaii Island, the heart of papaya production. Within a few years, the virus had devastated the industry, which saw papaya production plummet by 50 percent.

Fortunately, scientists from Cornell University and the University of Hawaii discovered a way to use the genetic portion of the virus to inoculate papayas against the disease. Known as the cross-protection method, researchers identified and cloned the gene that produces the coat protein in the virus and then inserted the gene into the papaya. The process works very much like a vaccine does in preventing the disease from infecting the plant.

You can find Kamiya Papayas at Times Supermarkets across Oahu, Tamashiro Market, some small mom and pop stores, and restaurants like Big City Diner and Kapiolani Coffee Shop.

For more information: kamiyapapaya.com