KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Watermelon has an elegant presence on all food tales of rich and poor families, alike. That is because of its affordable prices and its affluence as compared with other types of fruit.
Watermelon cools the nerves, eases tension and guards the body against diseases. The conventional wisdom has it that watermelon quenches thirst and it is usual to see a family man back home from work, a watermelon on his shoulder.
Its red juicy flesh is widely consumed during the hot summer season and during the holy fasting month of Ramadan. It is served in the form of slices and cubes and can be taken as a juice.
For Sudan, watermelon is an important and indispensable cash crop, thanks to its high marketing property both locally and abroad. Sudan has in recent years started to export watermelon in big quantities to the Arab and some European markets. It is convenient for exporters because it endures shipping and can reach external markets in an excellent condition.
Watermelon seeds are one of Sudan’s most important exports and generate handsome incomes for rural families. Sudan is one of the major watermelon seeds producers and exporters. The market of el-Obied town in the Midwest is Sudan’s major watermelon seeds market. Watermelon seeds are of high nutritional value due to their high content of protein, magnesium, oils, vitamin B and calcium. They are eaten added to other dishes after they are sprouted or roasted as snack.
While the watermelon pulp is consumed fresh as a refresher and a thirst quencher, it is also used in the manufacturing of jams and juices.
The outer skin is used as animal fodder and as a cosmetic thanks to its skin softening effect.
Watermelon flourishes in temperate zones because it can endure drought and humidity. Its favorite environment is light- sandy, organic- matters -rich soil with good water drainage. Watermelon requires a relatively long time to mature and bear fruit. It is widely cultivated in the perennial irrigation farms of the Gezira, Blue Nile, Kassala, Nahr el-Neel and Khartoum states. It also flourishes in flood inundated farms along rivers, creeks and valleys. The latter type, known as ramly (sandy) is grown in the Kordofan, Darfur and Nahr el-Neel States and is considered the best due to its high content of water and sugars.
The Sudanese watermelon is of two species: The Rothman, which is oval in shape with a light- green skin. This variety is characterized with less seeds. The other variety is called shirya with a dark- green skin and contains a lot of seeds.
Medical studies have revealed a lot of benefits for watermelon. It is rich in materials that suffice the body’s need for water, vitamins and minerals throughout the day. It contains a quantity of antioxidants and is useful for the heart. It helps in easing tension and anxiety, energizes the digestive system and boosts the liver functions. It is a useful antidote against jaundice and hepatitis and a good diuretic; that is why it is advised in some kidney problems without the need for chemical drugs.
It is also useful for obese persons and seekers of slim bodies due to the Vitamin C it contains.
The watermelon skin is useful in many ways. When applied on an allergic part of the body the allergy is soothed faster. The skin is an antidote against vitiligo and is useful in coughs and other chest diseases.
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