Anisur Rahman, a farmer from Patuakhali, has been cultivating watermelons for several years. This year too, he has cultivated the fruit on half an acre of land at Tk45,000 and got expected yields. He hopes to earn around Tk90,000.
Anisur said about 5,000 watermelons grow per acre of land and are sold for Tk3.5-4 lakh, on average Tk80 per piece. A large watermelon (15 kg and over) is sold for up to Tk200.
Many other farmers in the country like Anisur have said they have got good yields this year as rains did not cause any damage to watermelon.
Traders at wholesale markets like Karwan Bazar, Badamtali and Beribandh also said this year's yield and sale are better than previous years'.
Horticulturist Sabina Yeasmin at the Horticulture wing of The Department of Agricultural Extension said the production seems to be better this year. This year's cultivation and production can be determined in July after the watermelon season ends.
The Department of Agricultural Extension expects that the production would be more than 15 lakh tonnes this year. In 2020, 14,52,592 watermelons were produced in 38,824 hectares. And in 2019, the production was 13,67,356 watermelons in 34,607 hectares.
Although farmers are getting good prices, there is a significant difference between the price in the retail market and that in the wholesale market. Retailers are buying watermelons by piece from warehouses but selling them by weight and the price increases two to three times.
Customers said the price is higher than in previous years as watermelons are being sold by weight instead of by piece this year.
Tahmina Khanam, who came to buy watermelons from the retail market in Karwan Bazar, told The Business Standard (TBS) that she has been buying watermelons for so many years but has never bought them by weight which started last year. So, even if the price is reduced a little per kg, the price still remains higher if watermelons are sold by weight.
Idris Bepari buys watermelons from farmers in Barishal and sells them at various wholesale markets in Dhaka. He said he bought an acre of land, with watermelon, at Tk4-5 lakh. There are about 6,000 watermelons per acre. Depending on the size, a watermelon is sold at Tk40-150.
"We bring about 3,000 watermelons in each truck and sell for around Tk3 lakh. The rent of each truck is Tk35,000," he added.
Md Abdur Razzak, a storekeeper in Karwan Bazar, said he is selling each watermelon at a wholesale price of Tk60-200.
Retailers are buying watermelons at Tk10-15 per kg but selling them at up to Tk50 per kg in the market, he added.
Md Hannan Sheikh, a wholesaler in Badamtali, Old Dhaka, told TBS, "We sell large size (10-15 kg) watermelons at a wholesale price of Tk120-180, Tk12-14 per kg.
At Karwan Bazar, retailer Rafiqul Islam said it costs Tk25 per kg to buy and bring watermelons and he sells at Tk35 per kg. He sells watermelons worth Tk40,000 every day.
While asked why he was selling watermelons by weight after buying those by piece, Nadim Khan, a retailer in Mirpur's Taltola area, told TBS, "Watermelons are now being sold by weight everywhere. We make a small profit."
Alhaj Mahbubul Alam Babul, president of Karwan Bazar Fruit Traders Owners' Association, said at the beginning of the season watermelons are sold by weight.
Sirajul Islam, president of Dhaka Metropolitan Fruit Importer and Exporter and Warehouse Owners and Traders' Co-operative Society Limited, told TBS that the production and sale of watermelon this year is better than other years. This year, the farmers are getting good prices, however, retailers are making the profit most.