In 2012, a team of researchers from the UGM Faculty of Biology led by Prof. Budi Setiadi Daryono introduced Hikapel, an apple melon cultivar.
The idea to cultivate this apple-sized melon, he said, started in 2011. A group of socialites in Yogyakarta and Jakarta told him how heavy and inconvenient melons were when he offered them his 2008-2010 research melons, Melodi Gama 1, 2, and 3, GMB, and Tacapa.
“Melons are not handy. We cannot consume it in one sitting because it’s so big that it has to be stored in the fridge,” the professor mimicked the socialites on Monday (9/10).
Hikapel resembles apples, weighing around 300-800 grams per fruit. It was named after his youngest son, Hika, who was born in the same year and funded by the Ministry of Finance’s RISPRO KPDP program.
“Hikapel is rich in antioxidants and beta carotene that can improve eye health, as well as containing vitamin C and several other minerals,” said Prof. Budi.
This cultivar has a sweet and fragrant taste, with a beige to orange flesh color. The more orange the color is, the riper and sweeter the fruit. The growing season takes 60 days, a month less than a typical melon.
“Hikapel melons are sold at Rp35,000 per kg around Jogja, while melons, in general, are sold at Rp10,000 per kg, so the economic benefits are quite high,” he said.
Hikapel has expanded to Yogyakarta, Central Java, Jabodetabek, and the global market. In addition to the fruit, Hikapel seeds can also be purchased.
In 2021, Budi and his team created a much smaller Hikapel (about 250 grams) called Baby Hikapel. This new, improved cultivar is ethephon-free, low in pesticides, very sweet, and has a distinctive fragrance and smooth skin, similar to apples.
“This variety has been recorded in the General List of Plant Variety Protection and registered in Plant Variety Protection,” he said.
During his 25 years of studying melons, Budi has produced 17 products, 16 of which can be consumed. The only product not for consumption is Gama Melon Perfume, a raw material for perfume, shampoo, and others.