GUNUNGKIDUL- The coastal areas are identical with tourism. These include the south of Gunungkidul coastal areas. But behind the beauty of the nature, the area is potential for the location of agricultural development, in this case the development of melon.
Such development was made by Universitas Gadjah Mada, particulary by Faculty of Biology together with Institute for Research and Community Service and Master of Management of UGM. Since four months ago, UGM and the community of Kemadang village in Tanjungsari district, Gunungkidul regency, has done test planting of melon named Gama Melon Basket (GMB) around the Porok beach, which is some 3 km to the east of Kukup coast. The result was satisfactory. “Planting was done in June and until October there have been two harvests. The price is good and the harvest time is good which is around two months,” said Karyo Suwito, a resident of Watu Belah hamlet in Kemadang village on Tuesday(2/10).
Pak Ranu, the nickname of Karyo Suwito, is one of several farmers in Kemadang who tried to grow melons. He said he obtained up to 2 quintals of melon which were then sold to reseller at Rp5 thousand per kg.
“Two trees of melon can produce up to 2 quintals. The price is good, the taste is sweet with the orange colour,” he said.
During the harvesting, Pak Ranu described that time to harvest is quicker compared to that of other agricultural products such as corn and rice, which are 3 months and 3.5 months respectively.
Despite the potential, Pak Ranu said there were some barriers in the developmentof the melon, namely pests and the water catchment. “Fetching water is still done manually, so we need a genset,” Ranu said.
Another story happened to Suwarno, a farmer from Kemadang. His experience in growing melons is promising. He can get double benefits. When he planted 2500 melons in an area measuring 1000 m2, he spent Rp7 million for plot, seeds, mulch, fertilisers, pesticides and human resource.
“With 2500 seeds, we reaped up to 3 tonnes of melon. If each kilo is sold at Rp5 thousand, we can have 15 million in benefit,” said Suwarno.
The prospect of melon planting is welcomed by the Gunung Kidul local government. Head of Agriculture for Edible Plants and Horticulture, Supriyadi, appreciated the innovation of Gama Melon Basket (GMB) around the coastal areas. He also hoped that the melon could be made a product of excellence.
“If the innovation is successful, we think about how to develop it further, for example, for an area as wide as 20 hectares,” said Supriyadi.
The mentoring from UGM, Supriyadi added, gave enough help, moreover that the farmers in Gunung Kidul are more focused on other agricultural products such as rice, corn and soybean.
Meanwhile, Head of Agriculture of UGM Agricultural Development and Training Station, Prof. Dr. Ir. Bambang Hendro Sunarminto, S.U., said that he was proud of the innovation done by UGM. Although the melon is grown in sandy land, it turned out that the melon grows well.
“The research funded through the I-MHERE grant was extraordinary, we hope this could increase people’s prosperity,” Bambang said.
UGM researcher, Dr. Budi S. Daryono, M.Agr.Sc., said that the south coast area of Gunung Kidul is like those in Kulon Progo or Bantul that can be planted with melons. Budi said there were some techniques in order that the melon can grow well, such as wind breaker, mulch and fruit selection.
“Apart from being the tourist destination, I am pretty sure about the prospect of developing Yogyakarta province as a centre of melons due to its high consumption,” Budi explained.