Famous Parra Watermelon Witnessing Extraordinary Revival

The famous Parra watermelon, highly prized for its sweetness, is seeing a revival with an increasing number of farmers growing the fruit. The watermelon variety nearly died out largely due to a short supply of seeds and declining number of farmers growing the crop, but timely intervention by the local panchayat turned its fate around. “In order to sustain the tradition, we encouraged farmers to start cultivating with hybrid seeds,” Parra sarpanch Delilah Lobo said. A villager said the idea to use hybrid seeds is two-pronged approached that involves first reviving the tradition of growing watermelons and then switching back to cultivating the local variety once the farmers have got used to growing the fruit. When the revival effort was started a few years back, more than 30 farmers were given seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and help during the crop stage. With more farmers joining in every year, this year, the number of farmers has gone up to 45. Talking about some of the challenges of growing watermelons, Rita Pacheco, a farmer who cultivates the local variety, said, “Peacock eats the tender leaves, which affects the plant growth.” Inadequate water for irrigation affects these farmers, too. Pacheco said many farmers are keen to keep the tradition of growing watermelons alive. “My parents and their parents have grown watermelons,” Pacheco said.