When will Ukrainians and the world be able to enjoy Kherson watermelons again?
On August 3, the world celebrates International Watermelon Day, but for Ukrainians, this date has a special meaning. Find out why Kherson watermelons have become a national symbol of Ukraine and what is happening to the region's agricultural sector now
International Watermelon Day was established in the United States of America, and the United States ranks first in terms of the number of people eating watermelon. The popularity of watermelon in America is comparable to the demand for hot dogs, as no American can imagine a summer picnic without this juicy berry.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, watermelon is also very popular, but for Ukrainians it is not only a tasty snack, but also a true national symbol. For example, Kherson watermelons, which for decades have been the most anticipated summer berry, swept off store shelves in a matter of hours, have now become a delicacy that the vast majority of people cannot afford. And the main reason for the significant rise in price and shortage of watermelons was the russian invasion.
It's worth noting that Kherson watermelons not only conquered the Ukrainian market, but also gained international recognition and love abroad. After all, a special variety of this berry, grown on the rich and fertile Kherson land, caused a great demand for watermelons outside of Ukraine.
Why did Kherson watermelons become popular even in Europe?
The vast majority of Ukrainians associate the Kherson region with watermelons, and for good reason. According to the BBC, based on data from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, before the war, 33.5% of watermelons were grown in the region. That is, a third of the total watermelon harvest was harvested in the Kherson region.
In addition, before the full-scale invasion, Kherson watermelons were enjoyed all over Europe, including Denmark, Romania, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
If you compare Ukrainian watermelons grown in the Kherson region with watermelons of other varieties, you can feel significant differences in the taste of the berry, as well as in the structure of the flesh and aroma. The warm, dry climate and specific soils of southern Ukraine made watermelons especially popular not only among watermelons, but also among all vegetables grown in the most fertile region. Today, however, Kherson watermelons are not available not only in Europe but also in Ukraine.
What is the current state of farming in the Kherson region?
The left-bank and right-bank Kherson region have certain peculiarities. The right bank of the region was usually used for growing vegetables and grain, while the left bank specialized in watermelons and melons. And while in 2022 there was a shortage of melons and vegetables due to the occupation of the territories, in 2023 the harvest was finally "killed" by the explosion of the Kakhovka Dam.
The flooding destroyed the entire harvest, but the main problem is that after the water recedes, it is still impossible to use the land for growing crops. After all, the entire topsoil is covered with silt containing hazardous substances and heavy metals that were in the water after the dam was blown up.
In addition, the attack led to the complete destruction of irrigation systems in the south of the country. According to Denys Marchuk, deputy head of the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council, 94% of all systems in the Kherson region were left without water supply. And these two problems have other consequences, such as total drought and the inability to irrigate will lead to an increase in the number of dust storms that destroy the upper fertile layer of the earth.
Other regions of Ukraine are trying to increase their crops and cover the market share that Kherson region used to have. However, given the total share of production that Kherson region occupied, it is almost impossible to do so.
When will Ukrainians be able to enjoy Kherson watermelons again?
It is impossible to make specific predictions about the recovery of the agricultural sector in Kherson region. After all, the priority is not the actual recovery, but the complete de-occupation of the region and the construction of a new dam on the Kakhovka reservoir. Only under these conditions will it be possible to talk about further plans and concrete steps. However, these two factors do not guarantee a quick return to pre-war levels of crop production. According to the BBC, quoting Denys Marchuk, this will take at least 8 years.
So, unfortunately, neither Ukrainians nor European citizens will be able to enjoy Kherson watermelons as they did in pre-war times. However, we believe in victory and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so we are helping the army and patiently waiting for the liberation of all territories from russian invaders!
We remind you! Previously, foreigners most often bought small souvenirs to remember Ukraine, but today the demand has increased for another category of goods. We told you what foreigners are buying in Ukraine today and what causes such changes in our previous article.
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