PESHAWAR, May 13 (APP):Watermelon, a unique nutritious fruit featuring sweet watery pink and red pulp, started pouring in markets after easing restriction on economic activities, has created a ray of hope for lockdown affected farmers to earn handsome profit.
Watermelon is also known as a unique fruit of the summer season having large quantity of delightful water juice. Its demands had started swelling in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with rise in temperature thus creating an excellent opportunity for jobless workers to earn substantial profit in the lucrative market of Peshawar.
Business of watermelon is spiked in top fruits markets of the city including Chamkani, Gulbahar, Hashtnagri, Firdus, Nothia, and Tehkal. The fruit is transported from Punjab, Sindh and Southern districts of KP while attracting Peshawarities to keep themselves hydrated for longer period during fast.
The relaxation in COVID-19 lockdown has not only made positive impact on the sale of seasonal watermelons but it has also provided job opportunities to thousands of daily wagers, small and marginal farmers to earn livelihood for their families.
Talking to APP, a fruit dealer at Chamkani fruits market Zakir Khan said, “Before easing of lockdown restrictions, an eight kilogram watermelon was sold at Rs 480 that has now slashed to Rs 400 due to significant increase in its supply from Punjab, Sindh and rural farms to the city markets “. The prices has dropped from Rs 15,000 to Rs10,000 per loaded truck in Peshawar, he added.
History reveals that cultivation of watermelon was first started in Africa some 5000 years ago and later it made inroads to Egypt and Europe and by 7th century. It also impressed people of the subcontinent. Following the creation of Pakistan, the watermelons’ cultivation was initially started in Sindh and Punjab and later in KP and Balochistan mostly for domestic consumption.
In Pakistan, 55.87% watermelon was produced in Punjab, 21.29% in Balochistan, 10.29% in Sindh and 11.84% in KP. The fruit is very popular among the people of KP which had become their favorite item during Iftar, dinner and food parties.
Director Agriculture Department, Murad Ali said that over 1,200 variants of watermelon are grown in more than 96 countries including Pakistan. Its production starts in April and continues till September across the country due to its fertile land suitable for cultivation, he added.
Murad Ali said, “Watermelons prefer sandy loam soils with good drainage and a soil pH of 7.5 to 8. It required moderate temperature to grow. The cold temperature affects its growth while hot temperatures make adverse effects on pollination process resulting in reduced yields”. He said seedless watermelons has a great demands in international markets but it require high levels of inputs, capital and managerial skills of farmers than seeded varieties.
The Director said that Larkana, Qambar, Shehdadkot in Sindh, DG Khan, Bahwalpure, Bhakar, Mandi Bhauddin in Punjab and DI Khan, Lakki Marwat, Mardan and Charsadda were ideal for cultivation of seedless watermelons for commercial purposes. He said that upto 200pc extra premium could be earned from seedless varieties. “Watermelon is a profitable cost-efficient fruit and a farmer can easily obtain upto 12 tons production from one acre by using just two kilograms seeds to earn Rs10,000 per 200 KG, ” he added.
Former Ambassador of Pakistan, Manzoorul Haq said, “Pakistani watermelon is very popular in Middle East due to its mouthwatering sweet taste, high energy, water and nutrition level”. He said, “a substantial amount of revenue could be earned by improving exploring new markets in world.”.
Dr Riaz Khan, senior medical and children specialist said that watermelon was very useful for people especially during Ramazan because it keeps people hydrated for long hours due to good quantity of water in it. He said it was also useful in managing diabetes, support heart, avoid kidney disorders, hypertension, reduces asthma attack, weight gain, balance pH level and prevent exhaustion besides minimizing risks of prostate cancers.
He said, “Watermelons can help reduces risk of heat strokes, especially in big cities like Karachi and I advise laborers, traffic policemen and fruits vendors to use it regularity and make part of their diet to avoid heat strokes in Ramazan”.
Dr Riaz Khan said watermelon is full of vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, C, magnesium and potassium, which is extremely beneficial for people’s health. He, however, urged patients of high sugar level to take the fruit after consultation with their physician.