The succulent summer fruit is selling at 20-38 percent lower prices this year than those during the same period last year
Alam Sardar, a farmer from Patuakhali's Baufal upazila, has spent about Tk25 lakh to grow watermelons in his 40 acres of land.
But he does not believe he will make a return of Tk15-16 lakh by selling the whole produce as the market for watermelon is down this season because of the countrywide shutdown enforced to tackle spread of coronavirus.
Hasan Mia, another farmer from the same area, echoed Alam and said present prices of the fruit were not enough to yield them a good profit.
Watermelon – a succulent summer fruit in a tropical country like Bangladesh – is selling at 20-38 percent lower in prices this year than those during the same period last year.
Farmers said 100 watermelons weighing 3-4kg apiece were selling for Tk3,000 while those each weighing 5-8kg for Tk5,000-6,000 and the bigger-sized ones (10-12kg) for Tk14,000-16,000.
Last year, prices of 100 pieces of the fruit, depending on the size and variety, were Tk8,000-20,000.
Although a few growers are able to sell their product, most are running after the buyers, a number of farmers and officials of the Patuakhali Department of Agricultural Extension have said.
Most buyers, including the seasonal ones, are not coming to the markets because of a transportation problem due to the shutdown.
Farmers of Patuakhali grow watermelons the most in the entire Barishal division. This year, they have cultivated the fruit in about 15,000 hectares of land and got a normal yield – about 30-35 tonnes per hectare, said agriculture officers concerned.
"But the farmers are in a serious trouble because of a low turnout of seasonal watermelon traders. Farmers are looking for buyers," said Ridoyeshwar Dutta, deputy director of the Patuakhali Department of Agricultural Extension.
Meanwhile, the decline in the demand of the fruit has also impacted Dhaka – one of the top markets of watermelon.
At least 1.1 crore residents left Dhaka after the government declared general holidays from March 26.
As a result, sales of watermelons are not satisfactory due to a thin presence of customers in city markets. The prices of the fruit are also much lower.
A medium-sized watermelon yesterday sold for Tk40-45 per kg while the bigger ones for Tk35-40 per kg. Last year, a medium-sized one sold for about Tk70-80 per kg.
Shafiqul, a watermelon seller in Motijheel area, said he bought 40 pieces of watermelons two days ago but could not sell more than 5-6 pieces per day.