Origin and Discription of Water Melon
Citrullus lanatus commonly known as water melon is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world at large. It belongs to the family cucurbitaceae. Its centre of origin has been traced to both Kalahari and Sahara deserts in Africa and these areas have been regarded as points of diversification to other parts of the world. The watermelon is a large annual plant with long, weak, trailing or climbing stems which are five-angled (five-sided) and up to 3 m (10 ft) long. Young growth is densely woolly with yellowish-brown hairs which disappear as the plant ages. The leaves are large, coarse, hairy pinnately-lobed and alternate; they get stiff and rough when old. The plant has branching tendrils. The white to yellow flowers grow singly in the leaf axils and the corolla is white or yellow inside and greenish-yellow on the outside. The flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers occurring on the same plant (monoecious). The male flowers predominate at the beginning of the season; the female flowers, which develop later, have inferior ovaries. The styles are united into a single column. The large fruit is a kind of modified berry called a pepo with a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp). Wild plants have fruits up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter, while cultivated varieties may exceed 60 cm (24 in). The rind of the fruit is mid- to dark green and usually mottled or striped, and the flesh, containing numerous pips spread throughout the inside, can be red or pink (most commonly), orange, yellow, green or white.
Water melon Varieties
Watermelon is grown in more than 96 countries worldwide. There are about 1200 varieties of watermelon grown worldwide; giving consumer’s a wide choice to choose from. There is great variation within varieties ranging from small bitter inedible fruits to large succulent sweet fruits. The varieties vary in vigour, earliness and productivity: shape, colour and marking of fruits; thickness and texture of rind; colour, texture, flavor and sugar content of flesh; size, colour and number of seeds.
Economic Importance of Watermelon
Water melon has so many importance and significant economic value and worth. Apart from being taken as fruits, it can also serve some other purpose economically. These include:
- It can be processed and used for juice syrups and sweets.
- High sugar content in watermelon boost our energy.
- High water content cleans human organism and does well for our urinary and digestive system.
- It is also have positive curing effect on coronary, liver, gold bladder and kidney patients.
- Half kg of fruit can satisfy our daily need in vitamin c other than 85% water content it contains 7-15% of sugar, also minerals, vitamins and little but of proteins as well.
- It is very rich in cartenoids such as lycopene and beta carotene.
- Lycopene is what gives watermelon its rich in the colour and is associated with reduced risk of developing muscular degeneration, prostrate challenges and other degenerative conditions.
- Beta carotene is another powerful antioxidant that can help to protect human cells against damage.
- Watermelons are also excellent source of protein. The seed contains 35% protein, 50% oil, and 5% dietary fiber.
- The seed is also rich in micro and macro-nutrients. Such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, among others.
- Seeds are also eaten as snacks or roasted and seasoned.
- Watermelon plant provides aesthetic delight and the fruit appeals the senses of taste, sight and touch.
- Ecologically, the watermelon flowers provide a source of nectar and pollen for bees.
- Watermelon rind contains an important natural compound called citullina, an amino acid that the human body makes from food. Citrulline is found high concentration in the liver, and is involved with athletic ability and functioning of the immune system.
- Watermelon seeds contain lycopene which is good for your face and also helps in improving male fertility.
- These seeds are excellent sources of multivitamin B and can replace some of the supplements. Vitamin B present in watermelon seeds comprises of niacin, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. B vitamins are vital for maintaining healthy blood, nervous system and effective immune response.
- These seeds can be used for treating diabetes. Boil a handful of watermelon seeds in 1 liter water for 45 minutes, keeping the pot covered. This concoction should be taken every day like tea.
- Watermelon seeds are effective in recovering health after illness and sharpening your memory.
- Watermelon seed tea works as a natural diuretic. It can be used for kidney cleansing.
- Drinking watermelon seed tea can be quite beneficial for cardiac health. The seeds contain a good amount of magnesium. This mineral helps in stabilizing metabolic processes and ensures the normal functioning of the heart.
- The healthy fats present in watermelon seeds, including Omega 6 fatty acids and PUFAs, help in reducing the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood. This, in the long run, helps lower the risk of cardiac ailments and other health complications.
- The unsaturated fatty acids in watermelon seeds keep the skin moisturized, soft, firm, well-toned and prevent acne and other skin disorders.
- Watermelon seeds prevent signs of ageing because they contain antioxidants and oils which make your skin look younger, healthier and more vibrant.
- Watermelon can be used as fruit salad.
Watermelon remained one of the best nutritious fruits and it has continued to play a major economic role in the nutrition of the populace both in developed and developing countries of the world. Nigeria continued to remain one of the major producer in sub-Sahara Africa and it has remained one of the major source of income to people in different part of Nigeria. Government should however endeavour to motivate both young and old to go into watermelon production to boost Nigeria production in the world.
Anons, (2006): Nasarawa State Agricultural Development Programme, Annual Crop Area and yield survey (AYS) Lafia, Nasarawa state.
Boswell, V.R. (2000). Watermelon, An African Native of World Popularity. Our Vegetable Travellers. National Geographic Magazine. Vol. 96 (2) 1-4.
De Lannoy (2001) Crop production in Tropical Africa.
Perkins-Veazie, P, Collins J.K, Pair S.D and Roberts W. (2001). Lycopene content differs among red-fleshed watermelon cultivars. J science food agric 81: 983-987.
Roman, H.R. (Ed). Published by Directorate general for international cooperation (DGIC), Brussels, Belgium pp. 236-238.
Schippers, R.R. (2000). African Indigenous Vegetable. An Overview of the cultivated species. Chatthan, U.K. N.R/ACO.EU.Pp. 56-60.
This Day Live, (2014). How Export Farm Produce will Improve Nigeria’s Foreign Earnings. Media Report; www.thisdaylive.com/articles/how…19:08:2014.
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