ISLAMABAD - Watermelon, a sweet and juicy veggie-fruit, widely believed to be first harvested some 5,000 years ago in Egypt, remained low cost summer staple for centuries in the Sub-continent. Though it is still an affordable family feast but it could not attain that much admiration and significance it earns in some other countries.

It is Oklohama's official state vegetable, whereas Americans every year on August 3 celebrate it as National Watermelon Day, marked as a holiday festivity. Japanese annually dedicate a day as World Watermelon Day. Japanese have another hallmark achievement of developing square watermelons for the ease to shelve them in refrigerators and racks.

Knowingly declared as a vegetable-fruit, it has another distinctive feature for rarely being cooked like a curry in traditional cooking vessel. "It would be funny experience to cook this item in a pip-kin on fire with added hot Asian spices; not sure what will be outcome but it will be a fun for the eaters," remarked Chief Chef Shaid Khan at Gun and Country Club, when asked did he ever cook watermelon. He termed it impractical to deal it like a vegetable for being so watery and sweetie.

An agri expert and director Farms Planning at National Agricultural Research Centre, Shamim Ul Sibtain said, “The watermelon plant's drought-tolerent ability ensures its maximum growth rate as it loves the heat and needs a long and warm growing season of at least 70 to 85 days.” He said country's most tasty variety is produced in Thal's hot and sandy soil where day time temperature touches 70 to 80 degrees Farenheit in which maximum species of other saplings could not survive. This veggie-fruit, he said, not only endures this hot and humid climate but also drags and soaks over 92 per cent of water with no competitor on earth having Adam's ale to this extent.

Called a fruit of angels by Mark Twain, its different varieties across the globe have some very fascinating names reflecting public infatuation. Among them a few are Queen of Hearts, King of Hearts, Millionaire, Crimson, Trio, Nova, Desert King, Tendergold, Yellow Baby, Yellow Doll and Black Diamond.

Imrozia Waheed, school health and nutrition supervisor, sharing some nutritional values of this summer specialty, said it contains vitamins, minerals, potassium, magnesium and anti-oxidants. Vitamin deficiency was a biggest challenge for children and women of third word today and World Health Organization was combating to overcome it. She said this fruit is an effective natural food to fight some deficiencies in human body. She said it was a season's blessing when sweating dehyrates body. She recommended its consecutive usage for kidney, liver and abdominal health.

Imrozia said scientists have found that this fruit, being rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories, was a divine sanction for cardiovascular health. The medical scientists also discovered that watermelon was among the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

An 85-year old practicing doctor Ghulam Hussain said it would be quite unbelievably interesting for younger generations born after 80s that the fruit remained a must item in annual Urs and Lok Melas (religious and cultural festivals) across the country. No devotee or visitor was supposed to get back home without a melon in his hands, he added. He said it was kept for hours in water well with a special net pocket entangled with a rope to make it a cool family treat due to absence of refrigerators.

According to Guinness World Records, the world’s heaviest watermelon was grown by Chris Kent of Sevierville, Tennessee in 2013, weighing in at 350.5 lbs. China is the leading watermelon producer with 66pc share followed by Iran and Turkey. It is hoped that social media wizards in our country will also initiate a campaign with a slogan "Tarbooz Ko Izzat Dau (give respect to watermelon).