Watermelon, a delicious fruit, is usually grown in the dry season. But 20 farmers of Natundia and Gowara villages in Rupsha upazila of Khulna district achieved an enviable success by farming it during its off-season.
They cultivated watermelon on bamboo platforms near fish enclosures and brought a marked change in their fate.
Watermelons were hanging like pumpkins on bamboo platforms and the farmers warped those in net bags for their weight management.
According to the farmers, their hard work has brought a tremendous joy for them as the yield is very good.
Due to its good taste, the demand for watermelon has increased in different areas. Many people are coming to see the beautiful scenes of watermelon hanging from platforms.
Impressed by the yield, some are buying watermelon right from the field. Wholesale buyers are also coming to buy watermelon as there is a good demand in the market, said the farmers.
Seeing their success, other farmers in the region are showing interest in watermelon cultivation.
According to the Rupsha Agriculture Department, they encouraged farmers to plant watermelon when they become jobless due to corona restrictions.
Although farmers did not show much interest in the off-season fruit cultivation first, a list of interested farmers was made at the initiative of upazila agriculture officers.
With support from Upazila Parishad Development Fund, the farmers were later given free watermelon seeds, organic fertilizer, pheromone traps and sticky traps.
Besides, the farmers were trained on how to grow watermelon safely.
According to the Department of Agriculture, each green striped sweet dragon, black diamond and sweet dragon pakija variety of watermelon can grow up to 15 kg, while green spotted Kania variety (yellow inside) watermelon up to 3 to 4 kg.
Farmers can harvest these varieties of watermelon within 60-70 days of planting, according to the department.
Devyani Mukherjee, Champa Adhikari, Chandra Bairagi, Vibechu Hira from Gowara village and Sabuj Bairagi and Shuvra Bairagi from Natundia village, said they had received watermelon seeds and other materials with the support from the agriculture office.
There is a good yield of watermelon and they are also getting good prices as well due to its high demand in the market, said the farmers.
Rupsha Upazila agriculture officer Fariduzzaman said the off-season watermelons were planted in Natundia and Gowara villages for the first time.
He hoped that watermelon cultivation would increase in the area in the future and assured that the cooperation of the agriculture department would continue.