Although the villagers of Phuntshothang in Samdrupjongkhar are faring well with paddy as cash crop, about 13 villagers in Khamaythang have taken up watermelon cultivation to earn more income.
This is the first time farmers have adopted a mass watermelon plantation in the gewog.
The farmers in the locality have rice, ginger and vegetables as their source of income.
The villagers, who planted the seedlings last month, are hopeful and eagerly waiting for the plant to give fruits so that they could market locally in Samdrupcholing dungkhag and in Samdrupjongkhar.
Today, the vegetable vendors bring watermelon from border town or Samdrupjongkhar and it is sold on an average of Nu 70 per kilogram. Samdrupcholing is 67km from Samdrupjongkhar.
The farmers said they wanted to diversify crops by growing watermelon.
One of the villagers, Dili Prasad, 59 said since gewog administration and agriculture extension supervisor took effort to come with such initiative and with summer around the corner, it was the right time for farmers to at least try growing it.
Farmers said they got seedlings free.
He added although they are not sure if the plant would be a success but they decided they should try any kind of crops that would help them fetch an income and as long as the soil is favourable for water- melon plantation.
“Some seedlings started bearing flowers,” Dili Prasad said.
Villagers said that even if they watermelon does not fetch much income but if it is successful they will expand the cultivation to form group and also encourage other villagers who have not yet agreed to start watermelon cultivation.
Agriculture extension officer, Choni, said they initiated the cultivation as Samdrupcholing shared the favourable weather pattern and soil fertility as border town.
“We never realized earlier that they could divert watermelon as cash crop so, people never grew it in mass,” Choni said. “If it grows well, we will work to market it.”
Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar