posted on 05/07/2012: 702 views
People plucking fresh dates from the date palm trees on the UAE streets is a common sight during the date harvesting season.
Many of them risk getting injured while climbing over the trees because fresh dates are not commonly available in retail outlets although dried dates are sold by many shops.
But an initiative of an Abu Dhabi Government organisation is making fresh dates from local farms available in selected retail outlets across the country.
About two tonnes of fresh dates everyday from about 200 local farmers in Abu Dhabi are being sold without adding any preservatives with a shelf life of just three days.
Abu Dhabi Farmers' Services Centre (ADFSC) is marketing fresh dates through its 13 souqs across the Abu Dhabi emirate and two prominent retail chains having branches across the UAE, Chris Hirst CEO of the centre, told Gulf News on Monday.
He said the centre took this initiative after noticing a lack of high-quality local fresh dates in the UAE supermarkets.
"This will be the first time local fresh dates have been so widely marketed. In the past, a small amount has been available, but the quality has been unreliable,” Hirst said.
The supply is from a select group of about 200 farmers so that the fruit will be the highest possible quality, the CEO said.
He said it is part of the centre's several initiatives to open up new marketing channels for the local produce. It serves the public interest also as the initiative will satisfy huge demand for local fresh fruits from the community, Hirst said.
Since the demand increases multiple times during Ramadan, the fresh dates may find many customers, he said.
The fresh dates are packed under ADFSC's brand ‘Local Harvest' in two kilogram, one kilogram and 500 gram packets, Hirst said.
In the centre's souqs in Abu Dhabi emirate, the price is about Dh 13 per kilogram.
The CEO said the local farmers are excited about the initiative because some of them even did not realise that selling their fresh dates was an option.
The centre is collecting the dates, packing and labelling them and marketing them to retail chains and supermarkets throughout the country. In addition, the centre will sell them to employees of government organisations. It is also exploring export options, looking to supply Muslim communities [during Ramadan] in countries where dates are not readily available, Hirst said.
The centre is offering the farmers a minimum guaranteed price (MGP) which will be paid regardless of market fluctuations. The MGP is Dh8 per kilogram for Grade A dates. If the market price is higher, then the centre will pay the higher price, the CEO said. – Gulf News
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