Farmers in Narail district are seeing profits multiplied up to six times by growing off-season watermelons in Kalia upazila, thanks to the local agricultural department officials for introducing hybrid variants of watermelons in the area.
Normally, February to April is the season of the mouth-watering summer fruit but officials of the local Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) introduced hybrid variants in Kalia upazila during monsoon.
A total of eight hectares of land in Kalia upazila are being used to grow the off-season watermelons, with a target to produce 15 tonnes of the fruit per hectare. The DAE officials provided fertilizers, seeds and cash to the farmers and with their help, watermelons are being cultivated along the bank of the fish enclosures and waterbodies in Gobindanagar, Salamabad, and Bhaktadanga areas.
Farmers are growing Asian-2, Tripti and Black Baby hybrid variants of watermelon. These variants taste sweet and delicious, they say.
Farmers say they spent Tk 15,000-20,000 per hectare and sold watermelons worth Tk 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh per hectare.
Sheikh Kamal Hossain, a resident of Bhaurir Char in the upazila and assistant professor at Nabadanga Degree College, said, “I took training from Dumuria upazila of Khulna district and after that, I have planted 1000 saplings of watermelon on seven acres of land along the fish enclosures on an experimental basis last year. I have earned Tk 2 lakh from this.”
This year, he planted 2000 saplings on the same land after spending Tk 70,000. He expects to earn Tk 4 lakh from watermelon production this year.
Pradeep Kumar Barman, councilor of ward-6 under Kalia municipality, said this year he planted 12,000 saplings along the bank of 150 bigha of fish enclosures during monsoon. “So far I have spent Tk 10 lakh. Within 35 days, flowers started to bloom and I started harvesting watermelon within 60-65 days of planting. Each watermelon weighs almost 4 kg.”
He also expected to produce 2 lakh kgs of watermelon this year and if the market prices remain favorable, he could be able to earn Tk 40 lakh.
Depak Kumar Roy, deputy director of Narail DAE, said the farmers are earning profits up to six times considering their expenditure, within 60-65 days of cultivation. “We are providing all-out support through using smart technology and providing fertilizer and pesticides for good production of watermelon.”
Eva Mallik, Kalia Upazila Agriculture Officer, said “Watermelon is no longer a seasonal fruit now, and it can be produced throughout the year. Flowers start to bloom within 40-50 days of planting saplings and 70-80 days are needed for harvesting.”
Most of the farmers in the district are showing interest in cultivating the off-season hybrid watermelon on their lands as it has proven to be profitable, he said.