Date harvest set for a major leap

DUBAI - The UAE ranks seventh in the world in date production with a contribution of six per cent of the total global production, according to an official at Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

By Meraj Rizvi

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Published: Sat 9 Aug 2003, 11:32 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:11 PM

The annual date harvest has risen more than 53 times since 1961, from less than 6,000 metric tonnes to 318,000 metric tonnes in 2001, with the total area of plantation soaring to 62,000 hectares from a meagre 600 hectares over the same period. Besides, dates exports has jumped from zero in 1971 to over 50,000 metric tonnes in 1998 with a value of $15 million.

The official pointed out that the ministry was making efforts to expand the date production in the UAE using new technology. As a result a Date Palm Research and Development Programme, a UAE University programme, run in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), aims to produce the best date palm varieties and build the country's technical capacity.

The programme is the first of its kind in the country and the first in the world to earn an International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) certification. The initiative has strengthened the university's date palm research and development unit and has also helped in building the capacity of the national technical and research team.

The UNDP programme launched in 2000 has been expanding its facilities to attain production of 250,000 plants in a year, the official said, adding that the programme achieved an earlier target of producing 100,000 date palms in 2002 and plans to repeat it this year.

The programme has set up two more nurseries and is planning to expand the Date Palm Tissue Culture Laboratories by the end of this year. This expansion will enable the programme to produce 250,000 plants using the 'Tissue Culturing Organogenesis Techniques' for the large scale propogation of date palm in the country.

The programme has successfully introduced some 17 varieties and three male date palms over the last three years in the UAE.

In addition, researchers on palm studies at the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have developed 10 varieties of date palms in the UAE which can be cultivated in high salinity. These include Farad, Lulu, Djibri, Nafalk, Khasab, Barni, Khilas, Khanezi, Shahele and Abu Maan.

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