Bahla: Hamad bin Ali al Hinai, a farmer from the town of Wadi Quriyat, in Bahla, Dakhliyah, who worked tirelessly to plant 10 acres of his land with watermelon seeds this season, eventually landed a bountiful harvest of over 200 tonnes of high quality watermelon.
Hinai said, “I started the project three years ago. The idea came to me to diversify the sources of income as I invest in many farms in the village of Wadi Quriyat.
Through communication with the Agricultural Development Department in Wadi Quriyat and specialists who recommended the diversification and multiplication of crops, and with the aim of increasing food security which has become a preoccupation for all countries to achieve self-sufficiency, the idea of planting Omani watermelon originated.”
He further said, “I started in 2016 by planting three acres in the first year as a step to know about the crop and learn about all agricultural operations starting from setting the seed to harvesting the crop. In the second year, I planted five acres and implemented the agricultural cycle programme. In the third season, 10 acres were planted along with the implementation of the integrated management programme in controlling agricultural pests by using several methods to reduce the use of pesticides.
The production jumped to more than 200 tonnes.”
In the next season, Hinai aspires to plant 20 acres of Omani watermelon, and increase his income by having high quality production to compete in the local market. He added that social media has helped him in marketing his produce.
“I sell to wholesale merchants and individuals inside the farm through the use of various social media that contributed to the marketing and selling of the whole quantity, despite some concerns at the beginning due to the coronavirus pandemic and the inability to market the product and sell it in the domestic markets.”
Hinai urged farmers to take care of their farms and cultivate various agricultural crops that contribute to achieving food security for the country and not leave it to expatriate labourers.
Hamad bin Mohammed al Hinai, director of the Agricultural Development Department in Wadi Quriyat, said, “The department is working hard to overcome all the difficulties facing farmers and to harness all the available capabilities by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
It also conducts field follow-ups by specialists in the department and the ministry and communication with agricultural research centres and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) with an aim of achieving high quality produce at the lowest cost to achieve food security and to work to encourage and train national labour.”
Many farmers in various governorates of the sultanate are interested in watermelon cultivation, as this crop represents a profitable project and generates good income for them. Good production depends on the experience of the farmer and his interest in agriculture. The price per tonne of watermelon ranges between RO140-150.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in 2019, 4,162 acres were planted with watermelon that produced 56,616 tonnes, compared to 4,120 acres and 56,047 tonnes in 2018.
Summer is one of the best seasons to grow watermelon because the seeding to harvesting period takes 75 days. This becomes 90 days in winter. Besides, demand for watermelon is always high in summer.