In dedicated nurseries

Agricultural experiment in Basra on vaccinating watermelons

BASRA, September 24 — Agricultural teams in Basra have conducted an experiment to vaccinate watermelons and melons in dedicated nurseries, with plans to distribute them to five farms in the Al-Zubair district, west of Basra. Agricultural experts anticipate increased productivity and enhanced protection against fungal diseases for watermelons and melons as a result.

This experiment is part of a project carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and funded by the European Union.

Dr. Khaled Al-Fartousi, the National Coordinator for the project, explained to Network 964:

“The project we are working on aims to restore and enhance the resilience of food and agricultural systems in southern Iraq. The project supports three sectors: the buffalo sector, the palm sector, and, specifically, the tomato and general vegetable sector.

The current experiment involves vaccinating watermelons and melons (a vegetable group) onto pumpkin roots (a root group).

The first phase involves planting them in cooled nurseries. After more than ten days and upon successful vaccination, the second phase begins, which involves transferring the successful seedlings to farms.

The seedlings have been transferred to five farms in the Al-Zubair district, as well as in the Safwan region, with 500 seedlings for each farm, comprising 5-10 lines in each farm. The plants have been covered with white netting to protect them from strong sunlight.

One of the key benefits of vaccinating watermelons and melons onto pumpkin roots is the prevention of fungal infections, especially Fusarium wilt, due to the deep root system of pumpkin in the soil.

Additionally, this method is expected to significantly increase production, up to 5-6 times compared to non-vaccinated plants. We are also working on vaccinating local eggplants onto the wild eggplant with a large vegetable group and high production rates.”