KUALA TERENGGANU: The tradition of Terengganu people in treating watermelon, also known as “timun cina”, as a must have when breaking the fast has been a boon to local farmers and traders of the fruit during Ramadan.
A farmer, Baharudin Ibrahim, 53, said that based on his 15-year experience as a watermelon farmer, the demand for watermelons would double during Ramadan compared to other months.
‘’Furthermore, the current hot weather makes watermelon always in demand in the market. Usually, most farmers will schedule their planting so that their watermelon crops can be harvested throughout Ramadan.
‘’There is no problem regarding marketing because I have just signed a contract farm sale and purchase agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries to supply 60 tonnes of watermelons to the state’s Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) for Ramadan,’’ he said when contacted by Bernama today.
Currently, three districts in Terengganu have been turned into major watermelon cultivation areas for marketing nationwide, namely Setiu, Besut and Marang.
A fruit seller, Fauzilah Ibrahim, 52, said watermelon is the best-selling fruit at her stall near Gong Badak, Kuala Nerus each Ramadan because it is the favourite of people in Terengganu for breaking of fast.
‘’Apart from its delicious taste, it is also suitable to be turned into fresh juice to restore energy after fasting the whole day ... the uniqueness for people of Terengganu is that it can also be eaten as a salad with rice.
‘’The demand for watermelons has gone up by 20% seven days into Ramadan ...There are also regular customers who buy them daily because the stock that I sell is newly harvested from farms in Kuala Terengganu and Setiu. So, the fruit is fresher and sweeter,’’ said Fauzilah, who sells the fruit at RM3 a kilogramme.
Meanwhile, Terengganu FAMA director Che Ghani Che Wan said FAMA had signed a sale and purchase agreement for 330 tonnes of watermelons to meet the projected high demand throughout Ramadan.
‘’The sale and purchase agreement, worth more than RM264,000, is aimed at facilitating farmers to sell their watermelon produce at a stable price to avoid price instability due to the interference of middlemen.
‘’At the same time, this will ensure adequate supply of quality watermelons in the local markets, in accordance with the stipulated specifications,’’ he added. — Bernama