Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) may be a soft, long-season crop and member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which also include squash, pumpkin, cucumber, muskmelon and gourd.
The origin of the species is traced back and said to be originated from the Kalahari Desert in Africa with evidence of early cultivation in Ancient Egypt.
Up until today, the crop is grown in semi-desert districts of Africa as an important source of water during the dry season and its demand is very high which is very encouraging to farmers.
The crops can be breed in any part of Nigeria and other parts of the world with demand for it increasing on a daily basis as a result of its numerous health benefits.
Aside from having cancer-combating enzymes, it contains 91% water, 6% sugar and is low in fat. A 100-gram quota conjointly provides thirty calories and vitamin C in considerable content at 100 per cent of the days worth. additionally, the crop’s pulp contains carotenoids, as well as lycopene.
Watermelon farming business is one of the most lucrative agribusinesses to operate in Nigeria because of its high turnover of cultivation in a short time. It takes watermelon fruits eighty-five days (85) from the planting date to reach full maturity.
This implies that it’s not seasonal, it can grow all year round, you can harvest three sets of watermelon fruits within a year to sell. It is one of the fastest selling agro-produce in the international market and locally as well. Watermelon is widely cultivated and consumed all over the globe.
From the Experts point of view, if you start this watermelon farming business on a large scale, you are guaranteed huge returns on investment.
Commercial watermelon farming in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world is very easy to start and cultivate as it does not involve much work and does not require much technical knowledge and expertise. If you are interested and own adequate land space, you are absolutely good to go.
It has the capacity to make a farmer wealthy within the shortest possible time. If you are considering crops to cultivate and harvest within the shortest possible time like pepper, okra, cucumber etc.
Presently, it is the third most cultivated crop in the world. Potatoes and tomatoes are the only two crops that have been harvested more them watermelon.
The watermelon fruit is extremely nourishing. In addition, it is made up of water to keep the body hydrated. Due to its high nutritional content, it is endorsed by nutritionists to be taken always.
However, over the years, watermelon has been known to have numerous health benefits aside from us knowing it as fruit. It has the tendency to prevent heart-related conditions and fixing metabolic deficiencies.
Read Also: Guide on How To Grow Watermelon (Summary)
Watermelon naturally has high demand in the marketplace which is why you should consider starting it today. Also, it is highly marketable and financially rewarding, and the start-up costs for this business is significantly low.
History of Watermelon Plants
Watermelons probably originated almost 5,000 years ago in the Kalahari Desert of Africa where botanists have found its wild ancestors still growing. Watermelons migrated north through Egypt, and during the Roman era they were cultivated and prized. Hieroglyphics on the walls of Egyptian buildings tell stories of their harvest.
Watermelons were buried in the tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife. Melons spread across the European continent and particularly flourished in the warmer Mediterranean areas. Watermelons were documented in 1629 in Massachusetts. During the Civil War, the Confederate Army boiled watermelon to make molasses for cooking.
It is in the Southern states such as the Carolinas and Georgia where watermelons flourish as commercial crops. Numerous varieties were developed, and variations of flesh color surfaced. By the late 1800s, the W. Atlee Burpee & Co. was developing its own watermelon varieties and selling seeds.
How to Start a Watermelon Farm
1) Get Your Land Space
The first step to take is to find the land you will need for the cultivation in a location where the watermelon plants can get six to eight hours of sunlight each day because you also need a large expanse of land to successfully run your farm.
2) Source for Seedling
The next step to take is to source for healthy watermelon seedling. Farmers that already run their own watermelon farmers can supply you with healthy seedling to use on your own farm or you can as well purchase from different crop research institutes and retail shops.
3) Begin the Cultivation Process
The cultivation process in watermelon farming is quite complicated as you need to plant the seedlings in a specific way to give them better space to germinate.
When planting the watermelon seed, each hole for the watermelon seedling need to be 1 foot deep and over 1.5 feet wide (1foot deep and above 1feet wide).
Cover the hole with fertilizer, place the seed on the top and push with your finger till it gets to at least 0.5 foot deep. For the spacing, you should allow a space of 8 feet (8ft) between each plant to allow the vines enough space to spread out when the plant begins to grow.
If possible, do the planting when the weather is hot, up to at least 70 degrees (70°c) hot, because watermelon functions better in hot weather.
For the first few weeks after planting, you need to water the watermelon generously twice in a week, then reduce the watering to just once every two weeks as soon as the vines start sprouting out. This is to help increase the sugar content in the watermelon fruit.
If a watermelon has a watery taste, that was because the farmer continued to water it consistently even after the vines started growing and didn’t give it the needed space to absolve sugar from the soil.
5) Weed Control
Since the watermelon plant is pest resistant, you need to focus more on getting rid of weeds on the farm; this can be done with herbicides.
This is the part everybody is waiting because harvesting means that the sales and money making period is around the corner.
I mentioned somewhere on previous watermelon articles that it takes a watermelon plant 85 days to get to maturity.
Now the question is; how do you know that you watermelon is ready for harvest? Your watermelon is ready for harvest when the fruit looses it outer shiny appearance and also the when the part of the fruit that touches the ground changes into a rich yellow color.
After harvesting, the final step is transportation from the farm to the wholesaler, retailer or final consumption for sale. To successfully sell your watermelon produce, you have to know who your market is.
The main market for your produce include: owner of fruit stores, grocery store owners, restaurants and hotels, pharmaceutical companies that need watermelon extracts as raw material for the production of supplements.
At this stage of the article, I believe to have covered various sub topics relating to watermelon farming including; reasons to start watermelon farming business, things you need to start the business and how to start the business.
Finally, since Watermelon is a fresh produce and you don’t expect it to stay fresh for a long time after it is harvested that is why you need to carry out a feasibility research in your location even before you start the farm to ensure that there is a ready market and high demand for your produce.
Benefits of Watermelon Farming Business
1. Very High Demand
Watermelon poise a much higher demand than cucumber which has made watermelon farming business in Nigeria more lucrative. Most manufacturers of fruit drinks make use of watermelon than any other fruits for their supplements during production.
2. Pest Resistant
While practising watermelon farming business, one of the things you never worry about is the pest because watermelon is pest resistant. Your job is only to tender your crop to maturity.
3. High Yield
Watermelon farming business has a very high yield rate and can be done all year round with a repeat rate of three times yearly making you plenty of money and a high return rate on your investment.
4. Easy to Start
Starting a watermelon farming business in Nigeria and other parts of the world is very easy and straightforward once you have the required startup capital. It’s not technical and not demanding.
Here are more amazing watermelon farming books and other related resources to guide and assist you further: