The hill district sees bumper yield of watermelon this season, much to the delight of the growers.
Started about 15 years ago, commercial cultivation of the popular summer fruit sees gradual increase in different upazilas of the district, especially in the char (landmass emerged from riverbed) areas of Kaptai Lake, said sources of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
Some 165 hectares of land, mostly in Longudu upazila, have been brought under melon cultivation this year and total yield is expected to be 7,425 tonnes while in last year 2340 tonnes of watermelons were produced from 60 hectares, DAE sources said.
This year per hectare outcome is expected to be 45 tonnes against last year's 39 tonnes.
Favourable weather conditions, adequate supply of fertiliser and less pest attack are main causes behind the good yield.
Besides Longudu, Sadar, Jurachhari, Barkal, Bilichhari and Baghaichhari upazilas produce watermelon, although in small areas.
Of the six varieties of watermelons cultivated in the district, hybrid varieties Topel, Glory and Champion are in high demand as they are larger and sweeter.
The juicy summer fruit started arriving in the local markets with huge quantity early March. The prices, however, remain high.
Currently, a big size melon is selling for Tk 90 to 150 in the hill town and a small size for Tk 50 to 70.
“I cultivated watermelon on about two bighas of land spending Tk 40 thousand. I have already sold the fruit worth Tk 60 thousand and expect to get Tk 2 lakh more from rest of the produce that is yet to be harvested," Abdul Malek, a farmer at T & T area in Longudu, told this correspondent during his visit there a couple of days ago.
“I cultivated watermelon spending Tk 12 thousand on my two kani land and already I sold the entire produce for Tk 50 thousand,” said Bijoy Giri Chakma at Lemuchhari in Sadar upazila.
Naresh Chandra Baroi, deputy director of DAE, said they are taking step to provide training to the farmers to help them to get better yield.