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CTA. 2005. Water melons. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57396
Ousman Konateh, who has been growing water melons on his farm outside Banjul in The Gambia for over 20 years, explains some basic rules for producing this popular food crop.
Water melons Cue: Water melons have been cultivated by people in Africa for over 4000 years, and long before that would have been collected from the wild by people in the southern part of the continent, where they are a native plant. Spread into Europe from north Africa around a thousand years ago, and into South America by the Spanish colonists, they grow best in places that have long, hot summers, and are more resistant to drought than other types of melon. They tend to be popular with both farmers and shoppers, because of their high juice content, and the high price they can fetch in the market. The common cultivated varieties are very distinctive, with their dark green outer skin and bright red flesh. Ousman Konateh has been growing water melons on the outskirts of Banjul in The Gambia, for more than twenty years. Ismaila Senghore talked to him about what he had learned during this long period of successful farming. IN: ?On an area of land of 30 metres by 30 metres? OUT: ? whenever they have the possibility.? DUR?N 3?56? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Mr Ousmane Konateh, a water melon farmer from Banjul in The Gambia. Transcript Konateh (Vernac) On an area of land of 30 metres by 30 metres you can harvest up to a thousand watermelons and that is only the first harvest because you can harvest up to three times. In the last harvest you can also make up to 300 watermelons. Senghore Now Mr Konateh let?s now look at the aspect of growing the crop itself. Now you said the soil was good but what about a situation where the soil conditions and water conditions are not very good. Do you think you will still have a good harvest? Konateh (Vernac) For the soil aspect actually even on poor soil conditions watermelons do very well. But it would be necessary to apply compound fertiliser which you can buy and mix it with the soil and then grow your melons. You can also grow them using animal dung, like cow dung for fertiliser. That will also be very, very productive and you can have very good sweet watermelons from there. It is also important to know that sandy soils are better than clay soils. Senghore Now let?s talk a bit about the pests, because insects can also be a bit of a problem? Konateh (Vernac) Well on the side of pests actually one must just contact the agricultural extension workers who give very good advice. Because when it is flowering time it would be necessary to spray the crop and when it starts fruiting it will also be necessary to spray maybe weekly to control pests. But actually the best thing to do is to contact the agricultural extension workers who are always with us and helping us, giving us advice. They are the experts so definitely they are very helpful in that respect. So we do not have difficulty in that area. Senghore Mr Konateh, what would you tell anybody who has never grown watermelon anywhere in the Third world? What good advice would you tell such a person if he wants to embark on growing watermelon and what incentives can attract a person to this particular crop? Konateh (Vernac) Actually the first thing to think about if you want to farm watermelons is to get the seeds and get the land and of course the other inputs that are necessary. And when it comes to guarding also the field because you would need to guard it against thieves and against animals that may pilfer the farm. Of course it can be a crop that you can use as an intervention, for example for late starting of the rainy season. If you were away travelling or you were sick and you could not grow on time now an opportunity is there for you to still grow watermelons and they can produce. Because the growing season is very short, it is about just two months you can plant your seeds, even at the end of the rains with minimum water you can still harvest. And if you are a normal farmer and the rains are good, everything is OK. You can still grow melons and it would be an added income, an added value on your yearly earnings. But it is important to know that they are in fact also possible to grow at the beginning of rains and that is when you know you have a lot of productivity. The only problem is that a lot would also get spoilt because of the amount of water at that time. But the important thing to note is that the early season crops are the most valuable because at that time it is out of the market and then they fetch very, very high value. So I would advise everybody to go into the production of watermelons whenever they have the possibility. End of track.