Agartala: For the last two summers and monsoon season, Tripura’s Department of Horticulture and Land Conservation has been cultivating a special fruit at their Horticulture Research Center. A fruit that conjures up images of intense summer heat.

Famously known as ‘Desert King’, this fruit could easily befool anyone at first glance. But the real secret is revealed once you slice open the fruit – a brilliant yellow colour that would take anyone by surprise. And why not; one doesn’t expect to see a yellow core when you get down to enjoying chilled slices of watermelon on a hot summer day!

Unlike its more popular version with the beautiful red core, these watermelons that the horticulture department developed under the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of Tripura, are yellow inside.

This is the first time that the department has experimented with yellow watermelon in their horticulture and fruit research centres. This variety of yellow watermelon is originally grown in the African continent.

Dr Rajiv Ghosh, head of the research centre, told EastMojo, “Its scientific name is Citrullus. By watermelon, we understand the colour red. But one of the discoveries of agricultural research plant breeders involved in modern agricultural research is the yellow watermelon.”

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“Two types of watermelon have been cultivated experimentally. These are Yellow Box and Yellow Gold, which is very good. The maximum requirement of this variety is up to about 3 kg. Red watermelon is a bit spongy to eat but yellow watermelon is crispy,” Ghosh added.

Explaining further, Ghosh said the red pigment in watermelon, tomato, etc., is called lycopene, which is an antioxidant. “The reason the inside of the watermelon turns yellow is due to the presence of beta-carotene and Xanthophyll. Yellow watermelon is very tasty and delicious to eat,” he said.

The horticulture department hybridised the fruit and tweaked its quality and made it suitable for cultivation in the local climate. Dr Ghosh said Tripura’s climate is conducive for the cultivation of this new type of watermelon. The department wants the farmers of the state to show interest in such watermelon cultivation and benefit financially. He said he also wants yellow watermelons to play an important role in crop diversification.

He said the seeds of the yellow watermelon are sown in December and summer is the main season for cultivation. He also said the demand for and the price of yellow watermelon is higher than that of red watermelon.

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