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How Kosi Farmers Can Benefit from Watermelon Farming on Their Sandy, Barren Land

Md. Gafoor, an octogenarian from Panipat, Haryana, makes a good living from the sand-filled area. He grew watermelons on 20 bighas (12.38 acres) of white sand-covered land he rented from local farmers for Rs 3000 per bigha.

Shruti Kandwal
Kosi Farmers Can Benefit from Watermelon Farming .
Kosi Farmers Can Benefit from Watermelon Farming .

Previously, the Kosi River embankments in Bihar's Supaul area were a brilliant strip of white. This sand-covered ground was of little value to the local farmers, who decided to leave it barren. Thanks to the resourcefulness of a flock of farmers who came here from out of state to find gold, these sections now appear to have been carpeted in green.

Unlike the farmers of Bihar, who are unable to cultivate conventional crops in this climate, the newcomers focused on cultivating nutritious summer fruit. Watermelon cultivation has given life to an otherwise dry stretch of land while also providing farmers with a source of income.

Md. Gafoor, an octogenarian from Panipat, Haryana, makes a good living in the sand-filled area. He grew watermelons on 20 bighas (12.38 acres) of white sand-covered land he rented from local farmers for Rs 3000 per bigha.

On the sand-covered field, he is not the only one growing the luscious and refreshing fruits. Every year, dozens of farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana travel to the Kosi region to grow watermelons, which are in great demand during the hot summer months of April and May.

While Gafoor and other farmers are now realizing the benefits of coming to Kosi, they were forced here out of desperation when the land where they farmed their crops became submerged or less viable for agriculture.

"Watermelons can only be grown for one season. In the off-season, I work on ferries or in Kashmir's apple orchards. In 1996, I moved to the Saharsa area, which borders Supaul, to sell clothes. I stayed for 40 days here "he stated, looking back on his professional history.

After all of these trials, seeing the acres of white sand in Supaul filled him with optimism. After leasing land from local farmers, he arrived in December 1996 with 10 other farmers to harvest watermelon.

Since then, there has been no turning back. At least 20 farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana joined him this year to plant watermelon.

Local challenge

A local farmer, Sajal Kumar Das, attempted several times to grow watermelons without success. "All day long, I observe these farmers working in the field. We are unable to commit that amount of time. Even though I cultivate watermelon on a small scale, large-scale farming is dangerous due to our lack of experience,” said Das.

"We don't know how to produce watermelon and we won't be able to work as hard as they do," Chandra Mohan Yadav, a farmer from Baurahi hamlet in Supaul, added in a similar tone.

Dr. Pramod Choudhary, Director of Supaul Krishi Vigyan Kendra, faces a difficult challenge in motivating farmers who appear uninterested. "Traditional crops, which they are forced to tend throughout the year, provide their food supply. Second, the farmers who travel from other parts of the country to harvest watermelon spend the entire day with their families. Local farmers are unable to do so since they are employed in other fields "he stated

Farmers are often ignorant of the financial advantages of cultivating watermelons. "We're attempting to enlighten them. Farmers will need time to change their minds "Choudhary concluded.

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