By: Awatif Izz Eddeen
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The cantaloupe, or sweet melon, is a sweet and healthy fruit that grows wide in the Sudan.
Cantaloupes range in weight from 0.5 to 5 kilograms (1 to 11 lb). They are usually orange-yellow in color, covered in a tough skin. It is a variety of the Cucumis melo species in the Cucurbitaceae family.
They are characterized by a distinct, lovely smell and carry lots of seeds inside. The fruit has a 95 % water content and contains a lot of vitamins and minerals necessary for the human body.
Agronomist Mashae’ir Ibrahim says Sudan grows a variety of cantaloupe species, including some hailing from the Netherlands and France. It better flourishes along river banks in the White Nile and Eastern Khartoum and Western Omdurman districts. The Khartoum State grows cantaloupes on an approximate area of 1000 acres, mostly dedicated for export.
Cantaloupes’ Health Benefits:
Cantaloupes are rich in Vitamin A because of their high concentration of Beta Carotene, which once it enters the body is converted into Vitamin A. This serves the human body with two benefits: Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, both helpful in eyesight health.
Intensive studies were conducted on the ability of Beta Carotene to ward off the risk of cancer and to guard the body against the contraction of tissues.
Cantaloupe is also rich in Vitamin C which, like Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, is also antioxidant. It is common knowledge that antioxidants help prevent cancer and blood clotting. Further, Vitamin C is important for the immune system, as it stimulates white blood cells to prevent infections and reduce the existence of a lot of bacteria and viruses. It also helps renew Vitamin H whose effectiveness is undermined by free molecules. Research has proved that Vitamin C guards against death related to heart diseases, apoplexy and cancer.
Cantaloupes are also rich in potassium and are also a good source of Vitamin B (6), Vitamin B (3), Folate and Thiamin. This mixture of B vitamins with the fibers existent in cantaloupes help produce energy via the good assimilation of carbohydrates and stabilize the sugar levels in the blood. The cantaloupe fibers ensure the gradual flow of sugars in the blood track, thus keeping them at natural levels.
Cantaloupe, or sweet melon consumption gives the body a feeling of incomparable refreshment, because it furnishes the body with necessary fluids, particularly in the summer when the body loses a lot of water due to sweating. The fruit is also diuretic and its content of calories is very low and thus helps with weight loss.
Because of these benefits local consumers like to take cantaloupe, especially in the summer season. Demand is also on the increase for Sudanese cantaloupes from European, Gulf Region, Egyptian and Jordanian markets.
Prof. Alsadiq Khidir Amara has pioneered cantaloupe breeding in Sudan when he produced the galia and other varieties.
Cantaloupe requires a warm dry weather to flourish. It can be grown all the year round in semi-desert regions. It is an important export crop during the winter where severe weather conditions prevent its growth in Europe.
More effort is needed to remove impediments of wide scale production of cantaloupe. More effort is also needed for the marketing of this product abroad.
However, the recent introduction of new systems of irrigation (dripping and pivot irrigation) has helped raise the quantitative productivity per agricultural unit. There is need for qualitative production of these melons to cope with the requirements of modern production systems. There is also need to improve the means of pest control.
Restrictions imposed by the U.S Administration on financial transfers to and from Sudan had also hindered the exports of Sudan to Western countries. It is hoped that the recent lifting of those U.S sanctions could help free Sudan’s exports, cantaloupes included.
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