Keonjhar: It’s watermelon time and summer will not be fulfilling without the succulent fruit which keeps you dehydrated. Much to the delight of the district administration and agriculturists, the juicy fruit has brought smiles on the faces of scores of small and marginal farmers of Telkoi block by helping them double their farm income.
The summer fruit has benefitted many farmers and given fresh hope to debt-ridden peasants. Apart from sugarcane farming, watermelon has also become a profitable business for the farmers here.
Furthermore, the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) has been encouraging the farmers and providing them with seeds, fertilisers and other support. The farmers are also provided with irrigation facilities to boost watermelon farming.
The watermelon cultivation has seen robust growth in this block since last year. Especially, farmers of Golagadia village under Bhimakand panchayat under the block have already earned in lakhs through watermelon farming.
Farmers of this village have become a source of inspiration for others. Seeing the profits, other farmers have also turned to watermelon farming and are earning handsome money.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, a few farmers had taken up watermelon cultivation. They had cultivated the tropical fruit in just five acre of land. However, this year, at least 34 farmers have grown watermelon in 30,000 acre farmland.
They expect to sell the first produce in the next 15 days. The watermelons are harvested when they grow up to the size of 3 to 5 kg. Now, farmers are very happy about the way the watermelon has been growing.
“Watermelon is turning to be a profitable business. We are planning to increase the production soon,” a farmer said.
“If watermelons sell at a good price, a grower makes a profit in the range of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per acre. But if the market rate dips below Rs 10/kg or the crop suffers from disease, the grower would be in trouble,” he added.
Farmers of Telkoi block have been associated with agriculture for years now. Severe water problem was forcing them to limit it to seasonal farming. However, now by opting for new crops like sugarcane and watermelon, most of the farmers are able to augment their income.