PEKAN: On the Kuantan to Pekan road, one will find stands overflowing with watermelons.
For locals, this is the destination for fresh and fair-priced melons planted not far from where they are sold.
Watermelon farmer and seller, Zaharah Fakar, 78, told Bernama today the majority of farmers time the sowing of seeds to reap a harvest when there is increased demand during the fasting month.
“Watermelons can be harvested 65-75 days after seeds are planted … so we were all busy in the fields caring for the vines and treating for pests since late February.
“For the past 30 years, I’ve been sowing the seeds a few months ahead of the holy fasting month because the watermelons are sought-after during this period as a sweet nibble or for its juice,” she said.
Zaharah said she planted her melons on an almost one-hectare plot near her house in Kampung Ubai with the help of two of her eight children.
She grows red-fleshed and yellow-fleshed watermelons, honeydew and ‘tembikai betik’ which is much-loved by the locals for its elongated shape, just like a papaya.
“The melons with the most demand are the less-sweet but fragrant ‘tembikai betik’, but unfortunately they are not ripe for picking yet.
“The other favourite is the yellow watermelon because the flesh is crisp compared to the red watermelon which is favoured for juicing,” she said.
Zaharah sells her fruit at RM2 per kg but offers a special discount to those who buy in bulk.
Rozi Nor, 45, said she journeyed 30km from Kuantan just to get the ‘tembikai betik’, but is feeling let down it is not available.
Describing her desired fruit, she said: “The flesh of the ‘tembikai betik’ is whitish and velvety … sometimes I have it with glutinous rice and sweet coconut milk.” – Bernama