Watermelon: A Mouthwatering Summer Fruit With 92pc Water Attract Consumers


Watermelon: A mouthwatering summer fruit with 92pc water attract consumers

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Apr, 2024) Wake up early in the morning, Shaheen Shah, a 48-year-old fruits seller starts his Suzuki van to bring watermelon stock from the Chamkani fruits market to earn maximum capital after its demand increased manifolds in the lucrative Peshawar's market.

Assisted by his son in loading watermelons, Shaheen regularly visits the Chamkani fruit market where he takes part in open auctions before selling the commodity in his hometown Amankot in the Nowshera district.

Inherited the business from his father, he said that the demand for seedless watermelon has increased manifolds after the beginning of the summer season and sells 50 to 80 watermelons per day at Rs80 per kilogram this season against Rs50 per KG last year.

Called as Shah G, he said that its demand is likely to increase further in the open market as the temperature increases in upcoming months in KP, expecting more profit," he told APP while loading the unique nutritious fruit featuring sweet watery pink and red pulp.

Having 92 per cent delightful water juice, watermelons are preferred by people over other foods in summer due to their great water features useful to beat the heat during wheat harvesting and construction works.

In Peshawar, the people, labourers, farmers and daily wagers make it part of their diets to keep themselves hydrated for a longer period after an increase in temperature in KP.

People of all age groups are taking a keen interest in watermelon due to its juicy flavour besides its affordable prices compared to apples, melons, oranges and other fruits.

The main fruit markets of Peshawar including Chamkani, Gulbahar, Hashtnagri, Firdus, Nothia, board bazaars and Tehkal are flooded with varieties of watermelons brought from Punjab and southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An eight-kilogram watermelon is being sold at Rs 640 these days compared to Rs600 last year at Peshawar and its prices need to be checked by the district administration.

The fruit is very popular in Pakhtoons, Afghans and becomes their favourite item after lunch and dinner, and other food parties.

Zard Ali, an inter provincial watermelon dealer told APP at Chamkani fruits markets that Punjab watermelon is available at Rs 160,000 to Rs150,000 per loaded truck and KP are priced at Rs130,000 to Rs120,000 per truck this year against Rs120,000 to Rs110,000 of Punjab and Rs110, 000 to Rs100,000 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 the watermelon business were earning double these days due to an increase in its sales in Peshawar.

He urged the KP government to announce a special relief package for watermelon affected farmers after recent rains damaged to the crop.

Dr Abdul Bhari, Director General of Agriculture Extension said that cultivation of watermelon was first started in Africa some 5,000 years ago and later it made inroads to Egypt and Europe. By the 7th century, it impressed the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent and began its cultivation here.

Following the creation of Pakistan, he said the watermelons' cultivation was launched in Sindh and Punjab provinces on pilot basis and later in KP and Balochistan mostly for domestic consumption.

In Pakistan, over 55.87% of watermelon was produced in Punjab, 21.29% in Balochistan, 10.29% in Sindh and 11.84% in KP, adding 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 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," he said.

Dr Bari said the cold temperature affects its growth while very hot temperatures have an adverse effects on the pollination process resulting in reduced yields. "The seedless watermelons have a great demand in international markets but it require high levels of inputs, capital and managerial skills of the farmers than seeded varieties" he said.

Larkana, Qambar, Shehdadkot in Sindh, DG Khan, Bahawalpur, Bhakar, Mandi Bhauddin in Punjab and DI Khan, Lakki Marwat, Mardan and Charsadda in KP are ideal for the 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 up to 12 tons of production from one acre by using just two kilograms of seeds to earn Rs10,000 per 200 KG.

Pakistani watermelon is very popular in the 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 Nowshera told APP that watermelon was very useful for people with direct exposure to sun during summer because it keeps people hydrated for longer hours.

He said it was also useful in managing diabetes, supporting the heart, avoiding kidney disorders, and hypertension, reducing asthma attacks, and weight gain, balancing pH levels and preventing exhaustion besides minimizing the risks of prostate cancers.

"Watermelons can help reduce the risk of heat strokes, especially in big cities like Karachi, Peshawar, and Lahore and advise labourers, traffic policemen and fruit vendors to use it regularly and make part of their diet to avoid heat strokes in hot summer," he said.

He said watermelon is full of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, magnesium and potassium, which is extremely beneficial for people's health.

He further advised them to consume it as much as they can to avoid vomiting, gas and indigestion complications.

The senior doctor recommended people especially senior citizens not to use it in large quantities soon after meals to avoid nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, gas and indigestion complications.

He warned patients with high sugar levels to take this delicious fruit after consultation with their doctors.