IMPHAL, June 1: Parliamentary Secretary IT and TD Victor Keishing today inaugurated the 2nd State Level Watermelon Festival, 2013 at the Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen organized by the Nahakpam Foundation.
The festival will continue till June 10.
Speaking during the inaugural function, Parliamentary Secretary Victor Keishing expressed that the state has a favourable climate and environment for plantation of fruits and the people have a taste for fruits.
However, watermelon has been neglected by the people of the state till recent times and most people do not understand the benefits of eating watermelons, he said.
This is the second edition of the festival, he said before expressing his belief that the festival will grow in a few years’ time.
People have started to understand the benefits of watermelon, which has encouraged more farmers to plant watermelon, he continued.
Issues like global warming have also increased the plantation of watermelon, as the fruit quenches the thirst of the people in summers, he said.
The government should lay proper emphasis on forest and agriculture in the state, because the conditions of the state are favourable for agriculture, he said.
He continued that horticulture plays an important role in the state and further expressed his belief that the production of watermelon will increase manifold and help the local farmers.
Meanwhile, a participant of the festival, Dhiren Khumukcham of Terakhong a participant of both editions of the festival told IFP that he has 2 acres of land on which he plants three varieties of watermelon- Nirman, Namdari and Madhabi.
He said he sells his fruits at Rs 15 per kg, however at the local market, his fruits sells at Rs 20 per kg.
About problems faced by watermelon farmers, he said lack of minor irrigation facilities and a small market for the fruits are the two main problems.
The festival has encouraged the farmers to take up watermelon plantation in the state, he said and added in a subtle tone that he doesn’t expect a profit as last year as the number of watermelon farmers have increased manifold since last year.