Malaysia, Bangladesh ‘Watermelon Diplomacy’
What could be better than having a glass of refreshing watermelon juice to keep your body hydrated on a hot summer day? The watermelon contains 92 per cent water. The watermelon is also soaked with healthy vitamins, sweet yet refreshing low-calorie fruit.
In Malaysia, the watermelons are grown mostly in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, and Terengganu. The watermelons are typically harvested after 70 days, starting in January to March. The watermelon plantation producers could sometimes earn thousands of ringgit from one harvest!
On the other hand, Watermelon farmers in southern Bangladesh are pleased to be getting bumper yields and prices early this season as their produce can now reach markets all over the country thanks to the improved connectivity provided by Padma Bridge.
For the past three years, farmers in more than 100 char areas of Patuakhali, Bhola and Barishal have been planting watermelon in December rather than January in order to begin harvests by mid-February, when prices are typically higher.
Growers say yields are better this year as the weather remained favourable and even though middlemen eat up most of the profit, they are getting good returns based on higher sales.
This is because it now takes less time for wholesalers to carry watermelon from the region to other parts of the country as the opening of the Padma Bridge facilitated road transport, reducing the fruit’s chances of rotting along the way.
Bangladesh’s export sector has opened a new door, with the first shipment of watermelon from the country reaching Malaysia for the first time on Friday (March 17).
An air-conditioned container loaded with watermelons from Bangladesh was sent to Malaysia through Chattogram seaport. Sattar International located in Halishahar of Chattogram exported a total of 13,000 kilogram of watermelon in the first shipment.
Abdul Kayum, owner of Sattar International said that there is a huge demand for Bangladeshi watermelon in Malaysia. Taking into account the demand, for the first time the initiative was taken. For the past few days, watermelons were collected from farmers of Shibganj upazila in Bogura and to send those to Malaysia.
We would earn 4,000 USD from the first shipment, he added.
An air-conditioned container loaded with watermelons from Bangladesh is being exported to Malaysia through Chattogram seaport today (Friday).
Sattar International located in Halishahar of Chattogram is exporting a total of 13,320 kilogram watermelon to Malaysia in the first shipment.
Replying to a query, owner of Sattar International Abdul Qaium said “We are exporting this watermelons buying from Shibganj of Bogura. Production of watermelons is increasing day to day. If we can catch export market of the off-track product, the country will earn more foreign currency,” he said.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), watermelon has seen bumper production in recent years. In the fiscal year 2021-22, watermelon was produced 5.50 lakh tons while 3.45 lakh tons in FY 2020-21 and 2.50 lakh tons in FY 2019-20.
According to Export Promotion Bureau, no watermelon was exported till the date. Epidemiologist of Chattogram Seaport Plant Disease Control Center Syed Monirul Haque said this is the first shipment of watermelon exported through this seaport.
According to research institutes, there is $2 billion market for watermelons in the world. Watermelons worth $216 crore were exported in 2021. The volume of export was around 77 lakh tons. Spain and Morocco are the highest exporters while America and Europe are the best export destinations.