Pumpkin is highly consumed in our country for its multi-nutritional benefits. This colourful vegetable is generally cooked as a curry with a blend of spices, and sometimes cooked with daal. In the present day, it is often roasted or even baked into chips. The uses of the pumpkin are incredibly versatile.
Pumpkin has a wide range of health benefits, and is one of the best known sources of beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant. Beta-carotene, which offers protection against asthma and heart disease, reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer, delays aging and body degeneration as well as protects eyesight and skin. Moreover, pumpkin is a low-calorie vegetable which helps in decreasing the risk of obesity. Pumpkin is packed with fibre, helping one feel fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of time. Fibre aids in weight loss as well. It slows the rate of sugar absorption into the blood and is beneficial for digestion. Pumpkin helps to control diabetes; the plant compounds in pumpkin seeds and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose. Also, pumpkin pulp and seeds contain high levels of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, which boost the immune system through a powerful combination of nutrients.
Mohammad Abdul Kader, a pumpkin farmer from Shahbazpur, Jashore, shares his experience of growing this vegetable. Initially, the pumpkin seeds are soaked overnight and later they are rinsed and dried and then sowed the next day. Loam, sandy loam and clay loam soils are typically considered best for pumpkin cultivation. Before planting the seeds, the land is prepared using fertilisers such as TSP, potash and urea. Fertilisers are applied again when the saplings show up. During the initial stages of plant growth, irrigation should be carried out at three- to four-day intervals whilst during the flowering stage, irrigation should be done on alternate days. Harvesting is usually done two months after sowing seeds. Though pumpkins can be grown round the year, summer season is considered ideal for growing it.
Abdul Kader, along with many farmers of the area, provides vegetables for Shwapno under the Shuddho project. According to Kader, this initiative has helped him adopt the right agricultural practices for growing pumpkin, especially in terms of learning about how much fertiliser or pesticide should be used. Farmers also have an opportunity to learn about the interval period between pesticide application and harvesting, known as the Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI).
Pumpkin is a highly nutritious food due to its vitamins and mineral components. Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices all pack a powerful nutritional punch. Therefore, one mustn’t forget to include it in his/her grocery list!
A joint initiative of Shwapno and The Daily Star