When we think about a vast field of delicious watermelons, a hanging orchard from the ancient Babylon-era does not really come into our minds. But the farmers of Chuadanga have done the seemingly impossible.
The round-shaped Black Jumbo watermelons can be seen hanging from the platforms erected for the vines across large fields, covered with net bags to prevent the heavy fruits from tumbling down to the ground.
Shahidul Islam, a farmer of Garabaria, was happy to share his experience in cultivating this particular variety of watermelon.
"I have cultivated Black Jumbo watermelons in one bigha of land. It takes less time for the Black Jumbo to bear fruit compared to other varieties. The weight is good and the sale price is a little high. The cultivation of this variety of watermelon is profitable," he said.
The blood-red juicy flesh of watermelons pleases our thirst on a warm summer day. Different varieties of the popular fruit are available throughout the year in Bangladesh.
Among the types available, Black Jumbo is a relatively new variety. The commercial cultivation of Black Jumbo watermelons has already started in Chuadanga and it is ready to take the market by storm.
The Department of Agricultural Extension said they are encouraging farmers to cultivate the Black Jumbo.
Sources at the department said the farmers are showing much interest in cultivating the type as it yields fruits in a very short time. The production is also higher than other varieties.
This all-year-round watermelon has to be cultivated in higher lands. It produces fruits within 45 to 50 days after sowing seeds, which is much earlier as other varieties need at least 70 days.
The farmers from Chuadanga started commercial cultivation of Black Jumbo in 2019.
In the current season, five bighas of land in Garabaria village of Chuadanga Sadar upazila and Bhalaipur village of Alamdanga upazila have been used for the cultivation.
A bigha of land produces about 115 maunds of the watermelon. As the market price is higher, the farmers are getting more profit in a short period. Traders from different districts have been coming to Chuadanga and buying the fruits for their local markets.
Generally, a Black Jumbo watermelon weighs from three to five kilograms. The colour inside the fruit is red and it is very tasty. There is already a good demand for the variety in the market. A Black Jumbo watermelon weighing one kilogram is being sold for Tk50-60.
Sufi Md Rafiquzzaman, additional deputy director of Chuadanga Department of Agricultural Extension, said, "This is the first time the Black Jumbo variety of watermelon is being cultivated in the district. The farmers are showing much interest."