ALAPPUZHA: Onion. Sunflower. Mustard. Crops deemed rather unsuitable for the Kerala clime, they have all been dealt with successfully. Now, the juicy watermelon too has succumbed to the perseverance of farmers in Kanjikuzhi.
Achieving a rare success in the state, a farmers’ collective named ‘Ambalakkara Agricultural Group’ harvested 2,000 kg of watermelons after having cultivated the trailing vine in two acres of leased land.
If anything, the panchayat in Alappuzha is fast turning out to be a research laboratory for farming. Having experimented with various crops alien to the state, the farmers tamed the large fruit that generally flourishes in warm weather.
The cultivation was carried out in two acres in Puthanambalam, ward 6 of the panchayat. Terming the endeavour a huge success, the 11-member farmers’ group is pleased as punch.
“We received around Rs 60,000 from watermelon farming against an expenditure of around Rs 15,000 to 20,000,” said P S Sujith, a young farmer.
“The seeds were sourced from Bengaluru, with 200 gram costing Rs 4,000. We followed eco-friendly methods for the entire cultivation process, using cow dung, ash and chicken manure. Pure water too is a requisite.”
Endorsing the feat, Agricultural Department Deputy Director J Premkumar said: “It is very rare watermelon is cultivated successfully in such a quantity in Kerala. We have decided to support watermelon farming in more areas from the next season.” The produce was sold through bio-vegetable outlets opened along the national highway by the Kanjikuzhi panchayat and the Co-operative Bank.
“Controlled watering, after a growth of 40 to 50 days, is needed to increase quality and taste,” Sujith said. Acknowledging the support of the Agricultural Department in attaining the success, he said: “Seventy days are needed for growing watermelon. The cultivation began on Dec 25 and harvesting started in March first week. We are now planning to farm more areas from next season.”
Kanjikuzhi Co-operative Bank president M Santhosh Kumar backed the effort. “The sheer hard work of the young farmers has brought about the success in various farming experiments,” he said.