Every year, over 9 million tons of different varieties of melon produced worldwide. Most melon products are consumed fresh and abundant in the markets of many regions of the world, including Central Asia.
However, exports of the sweetest melon crop in the five Central Asian countries are significantly behind the harvest. For example, in Uzbekistan, only about 27 thousand tonnes of 1 million tonnes of melon harvest per year are exported.
As a result, the traditional delicacy in Central Asia, which also has valuable nutritional properties, unfortunately, occupies a meager share in the main international markets of dried fruits.
During the heyday of the great Silk Road, the Merv dried melon in Europe was a luxury item. In the Seljuk era, small cart pulled by fast horse, the horse changed every few kilometers, brought fresh melons from Merv and the regions of modern Turkmen Dashoguz for the table of the Caliph of Baghdad.
And in modern international trade, dried melon can become an attractive export item for the countries of Central Asia. In order to open new foreign markets and increase the income of producers, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recently adopted the first international quality standard for dried melon. It was developed by Uzbek Agency “Uzstandart” with the support of the UNECE Working Party on Agricultural Quality Standards.
The document, aimed at defining the quality requirements at the export-control stage, contains provisions concerning sizing of the product, presentation, marking, packaging, permissible tolerances.
This standard applies to dried melons, intended for direct consumption or for food when intended to be mixed with other products for direct consumption without further processing. The dried melon product itself may be presented in the form of longitudinal slices, braids, cubes, strips of regular or irregular shape.
The moisture content of dried melon is also standardized. This figure should not exceed 18% for untreated dried melons and vary from 18% to 25% in the case of preservative treatment or pasteurization.
On the basis of the standard, it is planned to prepare appropriate training materials that will help to implement international requirements in the activities of melon farms and in export and local markets. Thus, the production of high-quality goods will be encouraged, the profitability of producers will increase, the interests of consumers will be respected.
More than 1600 varieties of melons have been registered in Turkmenistan, of which 400 are Turkmen origin. Along with delicious taste, “Queen of melon fields” feeds our body with useful microelements and amino acids, has a rejuvenating effect and activates the output of “happiness hormone”.
In September this year Turkmen company “Ter Önüm” exported the first batch of 18.5 tons of melons of the famous variety “Gyzyl Gülaby” to Austria.