posted on 15/07/2012: 754 views
With more than 70 per cent of the world's dates being grown in the Arab world, the UAE is making its mark among regional competitors in terms of individual production. According to experts, the country is now the leading exporter of tissue-cultured date palms internationally.
"This country is winning the friendly race among countries such as Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who only 20 years ago were superior in their production of dates in quality and amount,” said Dr Hassan Shabana, a date palm cultivation and production expert at the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development (AOAD).
With 40 years of experience in agricultural practices pertaining to date palms, Shabana said that the UAE's success owed itself in no small measure to the great love and attachment its citizens had shown for the date palm. "Results like this could not have been achieved without support which extends to all branches of authority,” he added.
Even the red weevil, which was once the singular chronic issue for date palm growers, has been largely controlled with the advent of hormone technologies which stunt its growth and a breakthrough device developed by the Egyptian army, which helps in the early detection of the growth of these insects.
"The major problem with these pests is that they are like an invisible disease. This is why, once detected, the process of treating the plant becomes very simple,” the Iraqi expert said.
Other contributions have been just as instrumental in putting the UAE in its current enviable position. The United Arab Emirates University's Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory has participated in the Liwa Date Festival since its inception and has donated palm trees every year.
"In the first year, we donated one million palm trees to the festival. This year, however, due to production reasons, the number has gone down to 10,000 trees,” said Eman Hussain, from the university's dedicated date palm development unit, the Palm Tissue Culture Laboratory.
The Liwa Date Festival celebrates accomplishments relating to date palm production by holding daily competitions. The opening day of the event this year saw two date competitions: for the biggest Azej (bunch of dates), and the best Dabbas dates. The second contest is evaluated by experts with the quality of the product, its taste, colour, weight and other standards set by the judges accounting for 50 per cent of the weightage while the rest of the score reflects hygiene aspects at farms.
"We set aside finalists in order to minimise the chances that a farm with low hygiene should win the competition,” said Engineer Mubarak Ali Al Mansouri, head of the judging committee.
"The biggest Azej this year was 112 kg, setting a record for the festival over eight years,” he revealed. – Gulf News
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