Helmand farmers complain of lower melon, watermelon yields
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): A number of farmers from southern Helmand province have shown disappointment with melon and watermelon yields. However, they say fruit prices are higher this year.
Rozi Mohammad, a watermelon grower from Bolan area, told Pajhwok Afghan News some plant diseases had affected his crop this year.“There are many melon gardens here, but they have been attacked by mildew and blotch diseases.”
The ailments had brought down the production levels, he said, adding the diseases were most common in Nawa and Garmser districts.“The government and some agriculture organisations appoint non-professional individuals to train farmers.”
Mohammad complained inexperienced trainers offered the growers little help. He linked the lower yield levels to what he called the poor training imparted to growers on maximising the production of crops.
However, he acknowledged the market for melons and watermelons was better this year. A big-size watermelon is sold for 50 to 70 afghanis and a small one for 30 afghanis in Helmand markets.
Mohammad Bayan, a resident of Garmser district, confirmed the lower yield of watermelon but prices were higher.“Watermelons farms are yet mature fully, but the market is very hot.”
The fruit is sold to merchants from Herat, Kabul, Ghazni and other provinces at high prices. However, he called for the government to help farmers in preventing fruit diseases.
A resident of Nawa district, Haji Mohammad, said: “Our farms have given unsatisfactory yield over the past few years; we don’t know how to boost production.”Beside crop diseases, insecurity and blasts also harmed the crops, he explained.
Shah Mohammad, agriculture promotion manager, said watermelon and melon were not fully mature so far.“Their yields are not low, as the fruits ripen late in most areas,” he said.
The number of melon and watermelon gardens is high in Nawa and Garmser districts. The fruit from the two districts has a better market, Mohammad confirmed.Sometimes farms have been hit by diseases, but the agriculture department is helping growers to prevent such attacks.
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