Bani celebrates 7th Pakwan Festival

RESIDENTS of Bani town kicked off the five-day celebration of the 7th Pakwan Festival last Wednesday by sharing 11,680 slices from 200 pieces of its sweet watermelon, the town’s most popular agricultural product.

Bani’s pakwan (watermelon) is toasted by the town’s farmers because it has earned a reputation of having a unique sweetness and crisp texture unlike the other watermelons grown in other areas in the country.

While the annual festival provided a period for thanksgiving, Municipal Agriculturist Jeffrey Pamo said this year’s harvest did not prove to be profitable for farmers because of the low-price yield on account of its imperfect shape caused by monsoon rains that delayed the harvest period.

Nonetheless, he said there is still a lot more to be thankful for, thus the celebration of this year’s festival.

“The harvest of watermelons was delayed for a couple of weeks due to the monsoon rains experienced in the town last December that prompted our farmers affected to replant,” he said.

Some 30 out of 100 hectares of the town’s watermelon plantation were affected, he added.

He said while the year’s harvest still produced 60-80 metric tons, the monetary value already decreased because of the physical appearance of the fruit.

“The price of watermelon peaked last December at P45 to P65 per kilogram but now it is at P15 to P20 because of its irregular appearance,” Pamo said.

Meanwhile, Pamo said the municipal government is set to establish added value of the watermelons as grown in Bani by requiring watermelon farmers to register for the issuance of certification on the authenticity of their products.

“With the registration, the municipal government can certify to quality and authenticity of the watermelon being sold as truly Bani pakwan,” he said.

Other highlights of the Pakwan Festival were cook fest and street dancing competition.

The festival ends today, Feb.2. (Helen Martin)

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