Health Benefits of Sweet Melons - Why You should eat them more! - Daily Kenya

Health Benefits of Sweet Melons - Why You should eat them more!

“Sweet melons are giving me sweet returns. One fruit weighing around two kilos retails at an average of Sh.130, and in a month I can sell up to five tonnes of the fruit,” says Mr Steven Ithau.

Mr Ithau, the proprietor behind Ithau Farm along Nairobi’s Ngong Road, started off as a watermelon and mango farmer and only started growing sweet melon following his customers’ demand for the fruit.

Sweet melons have gained quite a following as more people become aware of their health benefits.

The fruit has cancer-preventive elements, reduces oxidative stress and kidney cell damage, which is particularly helpful for diabetes patients, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps control blood pressure.


Sweet melons, despite their name, have lower fruit sugar (fructose) than most other fruits, making them kinder to your waistline. Their collagen content also helps keep your skin radiant and firm, and helps in healing wounds.

For customers purchasing sweet melons wholesale, Ithau’s prices range from Sh.80 to Sh.100.

Before he started farming the fruit, he says he visited a company in Nairobi offering crop nutrition services to have his soil sampled to determine if it was suitable for sweet melon farming and get insights on the use of fertilisers.

“To ensure proper growth of the sweet melon plant, you have to provide the plant with organic fertilisers, which can be achieved by using cow manure or chicken waste,” he says.

Ithau’s main sweet melon customers reside in the leafy suburbs of Lavington, Kileleshwa and Kitisuru, and business is good, he says.

Unlike the more common watermelons, sweet melons are light brown or yellow on the outside, have a faintly sweet smell and their flesh is soft and green.

Mr Maina Kigutha, a grocer at Ngara Market just outside the Nairobi Business District, says that the fruit has high demand but is in low supply.

“I sell all my sweet melons by the end of the day, with each going for Sh.200. The Asian community located in Parklands and Ngara areas are my biggest clients. In a day, I sell up to 50 fruits,’ he says.

Mr Kigutha has also started slicing sweet melons and selling them in smaller pieces at lower prices to appeal to more customers.

“I sell a slice at Sh.30 to Sh.40. This has increased the customer base for the fruit and boosted my sales.”

This is more than the Sh.10 he charges for watermelon, and explains the price difference by saying that since sweet melon uptake is still relatively low, most people think the fruit is exotic and are willing to pay more for it.

So how do you go about growing sweet melons?

Planting and care

The fruit requires rich soil. The melon vine also requires plenty of sunlight and heat for at least two to three months.

Dig two-square-foot holes and put in four to six inches of manure or rich compost, add the sweet melon seeds and cover with soil.

“Purchasing the seeds is quite expensive. I purchased 500 grammes of sweet melons seeds for about Sh.14,000, which is part of the reason the fruits fetch such a high price,” Ithau says.

Space each hole about 36 to 42 inches apart.

Sweet melons require at least one inch of water a week as they grow, so keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

You may stop watering them a week before you harvest as too much water in the final stages can reduce the fruits’ sweetness.

Also, avoid walking between melon vines lest you destroy the leaves, which provide the sugars that sweeten the fruit. The more leaves on the vine, the better.

Note that if too many melons ripen on the same vine at the same time, their sweetness will be compromised.

“I prefer pruning some younger fruits to ensure that my melons have maximum sugar concentration,” says Ithau.


And how does he tell if his fruits are ready for harvest?

“When a sweet melon ripens, it changes colour from gray to green to yellow. It also separates easily from the vine. Since the melon stops ripening when it is picked, you have to be careful you do not pick it too soon.”

Once you have picked the ripe melons, keep them refrigerated until they are ready for consumption. They can keep for up to two weeks.

“Make sure you do not wash them until they are ready for consumption to prevent them rotting or getting mildew,” he says.

Ithau adds that insecticides and fungicides will be required to protect the crop from pests like cutworms and fungal diseases.

Final Word

The ball is in your court. This idea is still a soft target that you can take on provided you are willing to put a little more effort than everyone else. 

Remember, nothing good comes on a silver platter. So psyche yourself up and go for it. Start small and dream big.

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