Watermelon’s demand soars in Ramazan after increase in temperature

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Following an increase in the temperature in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the demand of watermelon- a unique nutritious fruit featuring sweet watery pink and red pulp, has enhanced manifolds during Iftar parties in the holy month of Ramazan.

Known as a unique fruit of the summer season having 92 percent delightful water juice, watermelons are being preferred by most of fasting people over others foods these days due to its great water features useful to beat the heat during fasting. In Peshawar, most of the fasting people make it part of their diets to keep themselves hydrated for a longer period of time during last Ashra of Ramazan after an increase in temperature in KP.

People of all aged groups were taking keen interest in watermelon due to its 92pc water and juicy flavour besides its affordable prices compared to apple, orange and others fruits. The fruit is very popular in Pakhtoons, Afghans and become their favorite item during Iftar and dinner, lunch and food parties in normal days.

The main fruits markets of Peshawar including Chamkani, Gulbahar, Hashtnagri, Firdus, Nothia, Board bazaars and Tehkal are flooded with varieties of watermelons, attracting Peshawarities. An eight kilogram watermelon is bring sold at Rs 600 these days compare to Rs500 before Ramzan at Peshawar.

Zakir Khan, an inter provincial watermelon dealer told APP at Chamkani fruits markets that Punjab watermelon is available at Rs 150,000 to Rs140,000 per loaded truck and KP are priced at Rs120,000 to Rs130,000 per truck this year against Rs130,000 to Rs140,000 of Punjab and Rs110, 000 to Rs1,20,000 per truck of KP last year. Associated with the profitable business for the last 10 years, he said that most of his colleagues linked with watermelon business were earning double these days due to increase of its sale in Peshawar.

He urged the KP Government to announce a special relief package for watermelon affected farmers after the last year foods devastation. Professor Dr Muhammad Naeem of the Swabi University told APP that the cultivation of watermelon was first started in Africa some 5,000 years ago and later it made inroads to Egypt and Europe. By 7th century, it impressed people of Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Following creation of Pakistan, he said the watermelons’ cultivation was launched in Sindh and Punjab provinces and later in KP and Balochistan mostly for domestic consumption. In Pakistan, over 55.87% watermelon was produced in Punjab, 21.29% in Balochistan, 10.29% in Sindh and 11.84% in KP.

He said over 1,200 variants of watermelon are grown in more than 96 countries including Pakistan, adding its production starts in March and continued till September across Pakistan due to its fertile land suitable for cultivation.

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 very hot temperatures make an adverse effects on pollination process resulting in reduced yields,” he said. “The seedless watermelons has a great demands in international markets but it require high levels of inputs, capital and managerial skills of the farmers than seeded varieties.”

Larkana, Qambar, Shehdadkot in Sindh, DG Khan, Bahwalpure, Bhakar, Mandi Bhauddin in Punjab and DI Khan, Lakki Marwat, Mardan and Charsadda in KP were ideal for cultivation of seedless watermelons for commercial purposes, he said adding 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.

Pakistani watermelon is very popular in Middle East due to its mouthwatering sweet taste, high energy, water and nutrition level and a substantial revenue could be earned through commercial production of seedless varieties. Dr Riaz Khan, senior medical specialist of Govt Hospital Pabbi told APP that watermelon was very useful for people especially during Ramazan because it keeps people hydrated for long hours due to about 92pc 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 the risks of prostate cancers. “Watermelons can help reduces risk of heat strokes especially in big cities like Karachi and I advise labourers, traffic policemen and fruits vendors to use it regularity and make part of their diet to avoid heat strokes in upcoming hot summer,” he said.

He said watermelon is full of vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, C, magnesium and potassium, which is extremely beneficial for people’s health. He advised Rozadars (fast keeper) to consume it after 7pm following Iftar to avoid vomiting, gas and indigestion complications. The senior doctor advised people especially senior citizens not to use it in large quantities soon after iftar meal to avoid nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, gas and indigestion complication. He warned patients with high sugar levels to take this delicious fruit after consultation with their physicians. — APP