Farmers stand guard to protect watermelons before ‘beauty contest’ in Turkey’s southeast
DİYARBAKIR – Anadolu Agency
AA photoProducers of Turkey’s most delicious and biggest watermelon species are standing guard in their fields to prevent harm from befalling their produce ahead of next month’s watermelon “beauty contest” in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Mehmet Kaya, a farmer who learned to grow watermelons from his grandfather and has been entering the so-called “beauty contest” for the past 35 years, said massive watermelons drew attention, meaning ill-intentioned people could seek to harm or steal the fruit.
“Our bed and mattress is here because they could cut our watermelons or stab them out of jealousy,” Kaya said, showing the field he owns in the Erimli village of the province’s Sur district. “Therefore we are obliged to stand guard here.”
Organized in cooperation with the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry and the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office, the Watermelon and Culture Festival aims to promote the watermelon farmer, the popularity of the fruit itself and the city as a whole.
One of the farmers who has set up tents on the hilltops to keep guard over their fields during the night, Mehmet Battal, said local watermelon seeds could produce fruit as heavy as 55 to 60 kilograms, while seeds imported from the United States or Israel could result in fruit ranging from 65 to 70 kilograms.
“We stand guard so that no harm comes to the watermelons we grow … If we do not stand guard, they could harm the watermelon and the producer’s labor would go down the drain. What should we do?” Battal said.
Mustafa Kurt, another local farmer watching over his watermelons, said they had grown fruits weighing 47 kilograms last year and were hoping to hit 50 kilos this year.
“We are very ambitious,” Kurt said.