Sriani Sujiprihati: Pioneering the Development of California Papaya in Indonesia


Sriani Sujiprihati, a dedicated scientist from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB), made significant contributions to agricultural science with her groundbreaking work in the research and breeding of papaya varieties, particularly the California papaya. Since 2001, alongside her colleagues at IPB, Sriani has embarked on an extensive journey to collect and study superior fruit seeds from various regions across Indonesia, focusing primarily on papaya.

Papaya is a tropical fruit that originated in mainland America, with its spread believed to have begun in Mexico and Nicaragua. Introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish in the 16th century, it gradually made its way to Malacca and other islands in the archipelago through Portuguese traders. By the mid-18th century, papaya had found its way to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

In 2003, Sriani started developing papaya seeds from various regions, including Aceh, Bogor, Boyolali, and several others, incorporating introduced varieties from Hawaii, Malaysia, and Thailand. Her comprehensive research aimed to create new, superior varieties by using these diverse genetic materials.

In her 2009 book, Budi Daya Pepaya Unggul, co-authored with Ketty Suketi, Sriani detailed the importance of these varieties as sources of germplasm, essential for developing new superior strains. “All these papaya varieties were collected and planted to serve as a genotype source for obtaining superior papaya,” she explained.

Sriani meticulously evaluated and characterized each genotype to identify its strengths and weaknesses. This process led to the development of superior varieties such as Arum Papaya, Prima Papaya, Carisya Papaya, Sukma Papaya, and Calina Papaya. These varieties underwent seven years of rigorous research and testing before being officially recognized in 2010 by the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Suswono.

Calina papaya, a standout among these varieties, has an intriguing backstory. The seeds, initially obtained from a Bogor farmer named Okim, were believed to be from California, hence the name Calina—an acronym for California-Indonesia. Despite its local origins, the name California papaya was used for marketing, creating the perception that the fruit was from California, USA.

Calina papaya became a market favorite, appreciated for its sweet taste, thick and tender flesh, long shelf life, and resistance to spoilage. The fruit’s manageable size made it convenient for consumers to enjoy in one sitting, while its rapid growth and short time to fruit made it an attractive option for farmers. Calina papaya plants start bearing fruit within four months and can be harvested weekly for three to four years.

Sriani’s work extended beyond the laboratory. Her efforts significantly impacted the agricultural sector, with PT. Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) III successfully cultivating California papaya on 2,500 hectares and exporting 5.95 tons to countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

Sriani’s contributions to plant breeding earned her numerous accolades, including the National Strategic Excellence Research Award at the 2004 RUSNAS Award from the Ministry of Research and Technology, the 2006 National Outstanding Lecturer Award, the Satyalancana Karyasatya from the President of Indonesia, and an award from the Indonesian Engineers Association (PII) in 2010.

Beyond her research, Sriani held esteemed positions, including Head of the Plant Breeding Division at the Tropical Fruit Studies Center (PKBT) IPB. She was born on October 28, 1955, in Ponorogo, East Java, and began her career as a lecturer. She obtained her doctorate in plant breeding from Universiti Putra Malaysia in 1997. Her dedication to plant breeding spanned over 24 years, leaving a lasting impact on the field.

Sriani Sujiprihati passed away on September 6, 2011, at Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta, leaving behind a legacy of scientific excellence and significant contributions to the agricultural community. Her work, including books such as Budi Daya Pepaya Unggul (2009) and Teknik Pemuliaan Tanaman (2012), along with numerous scientific journals, continues to inspire and inform future generations of scientists and farmers.

Sriani’s pioneering work in developing the California papaya has provided substantial benefits to farmers and has become a vital part of Indonesia’s agricultural success story. Her legacy lives on through the thriving papaya varieties that continue to enrich the lives of farmers and consumers alike.