Despite bumper yield of watermelon in Khulna this year, farmers and traders fear massive losses due to hailstorm, heavy rains and fall in price.
On March 21, hailstorm damaged huge amount of watermelon on around 203 hectares of land worth about Tk 10 crore.
According to officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), in 2016 watermelon was cultivated only on 407 hectares of land in Khulna. In 2021, 7,512 hectares of land was brought under cultivation and in 2022, record 13,970 hectares of land was cultivated.
Although watermelon yield was very goods last year, farmers incurred big losses due to rains and drop in price.
DAE officials said watermelon cultivation has decreased this year due to huge losses last year. This year, this summer fruit was cultivated on 12, 225 hectares of land which is 1,745 hectares less than last year’s cultivation.
Local farmers and the department expected 35-40 maund yield per hectare and selling of watermelon worth Tk 611 crore. But hailstorms and continuous rain have become cause of worry.
A big portion of watermelon in Khulna is cultivated in Dacope upazila. This year, this fruit has been cultivated in a total nine unions of Dacope upazila .Local farmers have cultivated watermelon on around 6,320 hectares of land and farmers hope they will be able to start selling of the fruit by 10 to 15 days.
Watermelon has been cultivated on 1,200 hectares of land in Koyra Upazila this year and the crops will be ready for market within 15 days. In the meantime, 200 hectares of land in Koyra and 3 hectares of land in Paikgachha were completely destroyed due to a hailstorm on March 21.
Utpal Raptan, a farmer of Banishanta Union under Dacope Upazila, said, compared to last year, per bigha production cost has increased by Tk 4000 to 5000 this year.
Still, he cultivated 3 bighas of land to recover last year's losses .
Dacope Upazila Agriculture Officer KM Maksudunnabi said, watermelon cultivation declined due to last year’s losses. But this year yield is better than the previous year.
Mosaddek Hossain, additional deputy director of Khulna DAE, said, " Hailstorm and rain is causing anxiety among farmers. Still, it is expected that watermelons worth 600 crores will be sold this year.”