New plantations are being created in the Littoral Region in an attempt to bridge the demand and supply gap of the currency-getting fruit.
Water-melon is cherished by Douala city dwellers. Since the fruit contains a lot of juicy water, it goes a long way to quench the thirst of not only inhabitants who toil under scorching sun, but also those who work in air-conditioned offices. The production of water-melon in the region has increased over time though the fruit still remains expensive. According to records from the Regional Delegation of Agriculture and Rural Development, production sprang from 7,475 tons in 2016 to 7,750 tons in 2017. The 275-ton increase which represents 3.8 per cent is not only telling of the profit farmers and traders reap, but is also an indicator of the creation of new plantations by both old and new farmers.
The Regional Delegate of Agriculture and Rural Development for the Littoral, Konde Jean Claude, said the region’s soil is favourable for the production of water melon and related creeping stems like egusi and cucumber. The Nkam Division is the highest production zone in the Littoral. Wouri used to be one of the highest production basins, but with the reduction of farm land for construction, production dropped and farmers went as far as PK 24 and PK35 creating new plantations. “Over a hundred hectares of water melon field at Yassa was used for the construction of a football stadium,” he disclosed. The cherished fruit is also cultivated in some areas in the Moungo and Sanaga Maritime Divisions.
Though the West Region is known for growing fruits, vegetables and other farm produce especially food crops, most water melon sold in Douala is produced in the Littoral. With the increase in production, one would think the fruit is exported in huge quantity. But no, Konde Jean Claude disclosed that it is delicate to transport from farm to the market talk less of exporting. He added that it is one of the least exported fruits partly because transportation is expensive. However, the increase production paradoxically led to the increase in prices. The price per kilogram increased from FCFA 200 in 2016 to FCFA 296 in 2017 despite the production increase of 275 tons. According to the Regional Delegate, the fruit is expensive because production cost is also high. The high production cost is blamed on the high rate of renting land for cultivation, buying farm inputs, hiring workers and transportation of the fruits, amongst others. The fruit is expensive in Douala now since it is not in season. What is eaten in Douala in January is mostly cultivated in the West Region.