In Sri Lanka, Papaya is cultivated as a home garden crop primarily, sold on local markets, particular to hotels, since Papaya, besides pineapple and mango, turned out to be the favourite fruit of tourists. In hotels, it is often served with lime juice or a piece of lime.
Though neighbouring India has become by far the largest Papaya producer in the world, Sri Lanka’ cultivation and export, mainly to Germany and Bahrain, is only of very limited extent. Imports, mainly from Thailand, are higher than exports. The area of highest production is Kurunegala District in an intermediate zone between wet and dry lowlands, since Papaya plants prefer sandy and well-drained soil and do not tolerate floodings. Very dry conditions in the north and east of the island do not not facilitate Papaya cultivation well. Papaya trees tend to be uprooted in cyclones.
The Papaya plant (Carica papaya), though 5 to 7 m tall, is not a tree, as the stem is not lignified. Some plants only produce pollen, other only produce fruits, a third gender can self-pollinate. In cultivation, a Papaya plant fruits within three years. “Red Papayas” and “Yellow Papayas” are both flesh of ripe fruits, whereas the “Green Papaya” is not ripe. The latter is used in salads and curries, but does not play such an important role as in Thai cuisine.
Papaya, though originally not a native plant of South Asia, is held in high esteem in Ayurvedic medicine, since both fruit and the tree's latex are rich in papain, a protease able to breakdown proteins, particularly animal proteines. The ripe fruit is a digestive aid, too, highly effective against constipation. For treating skin diseases, papaya latex is mixed with alum powder (hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate), applying this remedy on the effected parts of the skin one hour. Papaya juice seems to help a little bit to recover from Dengue fever. Many women in India believed, Papaya would prevent pregnancy.