Bangladesh

Hybrid watermelon varieties buoy farmers’ hopes

Watermelons of all shapes and sizes are currently available in the market but other than satisfying a customer's craving for the refreshing fruit, its cultivation provides a spectacular view.

However, one farm in particular is drawing in large crowds this year as people are flocking to see the three hybrid varieties -- Madhumala, Black Baby, and Yellow Lan Fei -- being grown.

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As the name suggests, the Black Baby variety has a dark outer shell while Lan Fei watermelons are yellow on the inside and Madhumala are green.

Abdul Matin has achieved unimaginable success by cultivating these three varieties on two bighas of land at his farm in Patrakhola of Kamalganj upazila in Sylhet's Moulvibazar district.

With a total production cost of Tk 40,000, Matin has sold about Tk 1.20 lakh worth of watermelons and hopes to earn another Tk 1.5 to Tk 2 lakh from his remaining stock.

With help from the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) and Lal Teer Seed, Matin's initiative has become a success story that other farmers in the region are now trying to emulate, according to the DAE office in Moulvibazar.

As such, the DAE is considering whether to encourage cultivation of these high yielding watermelon seeds in other upazilas in the district.

"Other than their striking appearance, these varieties smell and taste as sweet as honey," Main said.

Besides, they also fetch good prices in the market, he added.

Lon Fei seeds provide yields that are about three times higher than their traditional counterparts while each fruit weighs about three to four kilogrammes, making it a more profitable watermelon variety.

So, Matin plans to cultivate Lon Fei watermelons extensively from next season.

Sobhan Mia, a fellow farmer who visited the farm, said this variety was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious to eat.

"Considering the widespread success of this farm, many others now desire to cultivate these watermelons in the future," he added.

Another farmer Sajjad Hosain said it was nice to see watermelons of different colours being grown in the same field.

If given proper care, each Lon Fei watermelon can grow up to five or six kilogrammes in weight, according to Tapash Chakraborty, divisional manager of Lal Teer Seed.

Besides, it takes just 75 to 80 days for this variety to ripen and can be grown year-round, he said.

The farmer went on to say that it takes just two grammes of seeds to cultivate 30 to 35 tonnes of Lon Fei watermelons on about 3 bighas of land.

Kazi Lutful Bari, deputy director of the DAE office in Moulvibazar, said the three varieties have been planted at the Patrakhola Watermelon Exhibition and now, initiatives will be taken to spread their cultivation to other upazilas in the district.

"The profitable crop has seen a gradual increase in farming across the division and growers are pleased with the bumper yields this year," he added. 

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