Maqsud Akmuradov owns a 7-hectare field covered with beautiful melons. “This is the Gurvak variety, the sweetest and most juicy melon. It grows only here,” said Akmuradov, whose farm is in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm region near the banks of the Amu-Darya River. “And demand is strong.”
Twelve varieties of melon are grown in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan alone. It is a rare concession to fruit-growing for an area that suffers a paucity of water and an excess of saline soil. The Ferghana Valley in the east is a more dependable source of fruit.
According to another farmer in Khorezm, 2020 has been a great year for melons. Large numbers were grown, and demand has been strong in markets like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The only problem is there has been nobody to harvest them.
“During lockdown, there were difficulties with labor. The people we hire every year could not come to us. The whole family had to go out and pick melons, and we hired fellow villagers,” he told Eurasianet, that features an article claiming that melons have been the salvation of Khorezm farmers, as a sharp uptick in foreign demand has led to a surge in exports.