Over 1,300 take part in dates harvest festival

ABU DHABI — Over 1,300 contestants took part in the second dates harvest festival organised on Thursday in Liwa in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. And women are making sure they are not being left behind.

By Atef Hanafi

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Published: Mon 31 Jul 2006, 11:20 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:48 PM

The highlight of this year's festival was the strong participation of female contestants, according to Rashid Mohammed Al Mansouri, acting director of the General Agriculture Department in Abu Dhabi.

''Female participation has seen a remarkable growth from just 3 in 2005 to 54 in the current cycle,'' Mansouri said. He told Khaleej Times that next year's festival would see massive development of the event.

He said the organisers were planning to attract more exhibitors by allowing farm owners from outside the Western Region to compete in the 2007 festival.

He said that 46 cash and symbolic prizes were earmarked for the winners.

''The aim of the competition is to develop date production and encourage a sort of competition among dates farmers to reach an advanced level of high quality output. And to generate feasible economic returns from exports. Improvement of dates species and exchange of expertise is also being sought,'' he explained.

Competition was tough between the local types called Khulas, Dubas, Bumaan, Mumaiz and Manoua.

The judging panel was headed by the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, Mohammed Rashid Al Shiraiqi, and included professionals from the UAE University in Al Ain and the Date Palm Friendship Society.

Al Shairaiqi said the judging committee examined 1,698 plates of seven species of dates. Khulas date has recorded the highest rate of participation with 658 plates.

As for the biggest tree trunk, the weights of many trunk exceeded 40 kilograms. But, ''The top winner struck a new record with his tree trunk weighing 51,5 kilograms,'' he noted.

According to him, new species like the Majhoul and Sukari had figured in the contest for the first time.

The criteria for judging the best dates took into consideration the shape and size (40 per cent), healthy or free from diseases (20 per cent), brightness (20 per cent) and cleanliness (20 per cent).

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