With a planting area of over 30 million mu (about 2 million hectares) and an annual output value of more than 2 trillion yuan (about $290.8 billion), China tops the world in both watermelon production and consumption, Worker’s Daily reported Wednesday.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), China’s watermelon output was more than 79 million tons in 2018, while its imports and exports of the juicy fruit stood at 234,724 and 30,968 tons, respectively.
China consumed over 70 million tons of watermelon last year, with the per capita watermelon consumption exceeding 50 kilograms (kg), as indicated by the FAO figures.
By the year 2020, China’s watermelon output will reach 81.8 million tons, predicted market consultancy Askci Consulting.
Watermelon has long been a wallet-friendly fruit in China. Since June, watermelon prices have dropped to be the lowest among five major fruits consumed in China, according to data from the Information Center of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. This is thanks to the abundance of melons in the summer months, when most ripen.
As watermelon is cheap, delicious, and refreshing on hot days, it is the most popular fruit in China during the summer months.
Statistics from the China Agriculture Wholesale Market Association showed that the top 10 fruits last year in China in terms of sales volume were watermelon, apple, grape, orange, banana, kiwifruit, pear, pineapple, and mango.
“With the arrival of summer, air conditioning and watermelon have become lifesavers for many people. It is a great pleasure to lie on the couch, enjoying iced watermelon with the air conditioner on after a day of work or study,” said Liu Hong, a citizen in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.
The popularity of the fruit has created an enormous watermelon industry in the region, with a significant number of watermelon-themed events held each year.
A melon-themed competition was held recently in Panggezhuang Town, Daxing District of Beijing. During the event, an 80.1 kg watermelon won this year’s “watermelon king” title.
The competition has been held 31 times, in an area where the watermelon and muskmelon industry is now on a modern development path. With a planting area of 25,000 mu, Panggezhuang’s combined output of watermelon and muskmelon is 90,000 tons per year, bringing local melon farmers 210 million yuan in sales revenue.
Today, watermelon and muskmelon have been included in the protection of geographical indications of agricultural products of Daxing District, becoming a great business card of the district.
It’s estimated that by 2020, Panggezhuang’s annual watermelon output will reach 110,000 tons and yield 600 million yuan in revenue. The total output value of the watermelon industrial parks in the town is tipped to reach 1 billion yuan.
Recently a new type of watermelon, called the ice cream watermelon, has proven successful after it was planted in Fuling District of Chongqing.
Unlike regular watermelons, this ice cream watermelon does not grow on the ground but hangs from the tree, similar to grapes. Moreover, the pulp of the ice cream watermelon is creamy yellow and tastes like shaved ice if served after being kept in cold storage.
“My family used to be one of the impoverished families on the list of the anti-poverty campaign. After the fight against poverty was launched across the country, some poverty relief officials inspected my home and suggested that we plant watermelons. Over the past three years, I planted 5 to 6 mu of watermelons every year. I make more money now,” said Fu Huaquan, a villager of Yongxing Village, Shetan Town, Fengdu County of Chongqing.
By growing watermelons and raising pigs, Jinjiaping Village, which used to be one of the 95 poor villages in Fengdu County, lifted itself out of poverty in the scheduled time.
To consolidate the results and ensure that the villagers don’t fall back into poverty, locals have planted more than 1,500 mu of watermelon this year.