Dinajpur farmers succeed in growing “black baby” watermelon

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Watermelons hanging from platforms in a field in Bokultola village of Bochaganj upazila, Dinajpur Dhaka Trtibune

The three other farmers are Sazzadur Rahman, Abdur Sattar, and Nayon Hossain

A college teacher with three other farmers in Dinajpur’s Bochaganj upazila has succeeded in growing “black baby” watermelon, an Indian variety.

After learning how to grow watermelon on YouTube, an online video-sharing platform, Md Humayun Jalil, lecturer of Nafanagar Technical and Business Management College, and three farmers started growing watermelon on three acres of land in Bokultola village of Ishania union, Dinajpur, in February.

The three other farmers are Sazzadur Rahman, Abdur Sattar, and Nayon Hossain.

Within a few months, the round-shaped watermelons are now  hanging from platforms for the vines across a field, cradled in net bags to prevent the heavy fruits from tumbling down to the ground. 

They have already raked in profits with the sale of the juicy watermelon. On top of that, around 30 men and women from impoverished families who were left jobless due to covid-19, have a chance to earn a livelihood working in the watermelon fields.

It is learned that the black baby watermelon was first cultivated in Chuadanga in Bangladesh. Later, farmers of Joypurhat, Meherpur and Dhamrai of Dhaka also started growing this watermelon variety known as ‘black baby,’ which takes less time to bear fruit compared to other varieties.

When this correspondent called on lecturer Humayun Jalil recently, the teacher was happy to share his experience of growing this particular variety of watermelon.

Humayun said: “Besides working as a teacher, I devised a plan to grow black baby watermelon in my leisure time. So I started watching videos on YouTube about how to cultivate watermelon. Later I and three others leased 3 acres of land in Bokultola village and started farming.”

“We had to invest Tk700,000 initially to prepare the field for growing watermelon. We have sold fruit worth Tk800,000 in the first phase. Initially, the cultivation cost is comparatively high as one needs to make platforms for the vines,” he said.

Black baby watermelon is fully grown in two to three months. Each fruit weighs around 3 to 4 kgs. And per kg is sold for TK 50, the teacher said.

“We have hired a man from Chuadanga to look after the vines. And the other farmers are showing much interest in cultivating this watermelon type as it yields fruit in a very short time. The production is also higher than other varieties,” Humayun added.

Samad Ali, who is from Chuadanga and looks after Humayun’s watermelon field, said: “I have been growing watermelon in my district for 18 years. Watermelon is cultivated extensively in my district, but in Dinajpur the fruit is not cultivated on a large scale.”

“Worker Mujibur Rahman, said: “I have been abroad for two years. After returning, I worked in a garment factory in Dhaka. I came to my village from Dhaka after Covid-19 broke out. I was jobless for many days and am now working in a watermelon field and earning around TK 9000 per month.”

Contacted, Bochaganj upazila Agriculture Officer (acting), Arif Afzal, said: “Watermelon is being cultivated on 13 acres of land in the upazila. Especially farmers in Bokultola, Dohra, Nafanagar villages are growing the fruit and seeds of black baby watermelon that comes from India.”

Questioned, Arif said that no watermelon grower has contacted them yet, adding, “If any watermelon grower comes to us, we will help them with proper assistance.”

Bochaganj upazila Nirbahi Officer Chhanda Pal said: “There is a possibility of growing watermelon successfully in the upazila as the weather here is suitable for growing the juicy fruit. I hope other farmers will come forward to grow watermelon as many have already started cultivating it.”

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