Kunduz & Takhar produce toothsome melons
TALOQAN/KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): The production of melons has increased during the current Afghan year in northern Takhar and Kunduz provinces, officials and growers say.
In the main bazaar, the tantalising aroma of “Andulak” and “Qandak” -- special types of melons grown in Takhar -- attracts passersby and captures their attention.
There are at least 10 different types of melons cultivated in the province, but Andulak, Qandak and Baijani are the most prominent ones. Demanded by those who have tasted them.
Grower and trader Bismillah says connoisseurs know Qandak, Andulak and Wran Kalay (means destroyed village) are among the sweetest types of melons available in the market.
He recalled an old anecdote surrounding former king Zahir Shah. While eating a delicious Wran Kalay melon, the monarch enjoyed the taste so much that he issued a decree renaming the fruit as Wadan Kalay (prosperous village).
Wran is a village on the northeastern outskirts of Khanabad district in Kunduz, which is famous throughout the country for producing succulent melons. The land there is rain-fed.
Mohammadullah, a farmer, said: “Wran Kalay melon is a comprehensive phrase. Clients just ask for Wran. They say nothing more once they get Wran melons, knowing it is the best.”
Customers prefer melons from rain-fed areas in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces. Resident Fareed Ahmad likes to buy Wran melon that tastes sweet and does not need chemicals to ripen.
Burhanuddin Poya, a medic in Takhar, calls melon beneficial for health. Diabetic patients should avoid eating it while those with stomachache should eat melon to relive their pain.
“Melon has more glucose than other fruits, lending energy to the human body. It is one of the favorite fruits of the season but people have be careful as melon goes rotten sooner than other fruits.
“Eating a rotten melon means inviting diseases. Therefore, one should be careful in selection melon,” the health worker cautions.
The melon festival has been an integral part of the ancient civilisation of Takhar province, where guests converge on orchards during the summer season.
People stay under the open sky at night in vast fields and mountains; they make bonfires and eat melons as part of celebrating the festival.
Ehsanullah, a guest from Kabul, says he has eaten the Andulak melon for the first time at his relative’s house in Takhar. He relished the rare taste of the fruit.
Demand for and production of Kunduz melons have also increased in recent years. This year’s yield is higher because the crop remained safe from diseases, an agriculture official said.
The official added melons had been grown on 7,500 hectares of land in 2014, but the area under cultivation increased to 9,000 hectares this year.
Around 1,000 melons are produced by one acre of land. The price of per seven kilograms is around 100 afghanis. The fruit is exported to different provinces and even to Pakistan.
Director of Agriculture Mohammad Nabi Raufi said: “We have not received complaints from farmers regarding crop diseases or insect attacks. Therefore, production has increased in Kunduz this year.”
He recalled: “Around 11,000 melon farms were affected by diseases two years ago and 90 percent of the produce was destroyed. But the situation was controlled this year.”
The melon insect is special kind of pest that is as long as a finger and lives underground. The insect attacks the crop when it starts blossoming, getting into the flowers and laying eggs. As the larva grows, it damage the crops.
Mohammad Omar, a farmer from Chahrdari area, confirmed: “Melon production in 2015 has doubled over the last two years.”
Kunduz melons types are Asqalani, Zurmati, Sheen Maghzi, Ghazi Khani, Jantoor, Arkani, Garma, Qandak and Ala Pochaq. All are in high demand for their delicious tastes.
A grower from Imam Sahib district linked the pest control to widespread cultivation of melons in the area. Kunduz is famous for its irrigation and rain-fed agricultural lands.
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