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Date farmers’ woes

August 13, 2017

THIS refers to the letter ‘Dates producers’ problems’ (Jul 29) by Shahab Atta and Fareed Ahmed.

One is at a loss to know as to why the problems of date producers and exporters in Panjgur still remain unresolved.

If there is somebody responsible, then why have these problems not been solved by now? The letter in question is self-explanatory and reveals the miseries of Panjgur’s dates’ producers that produces 132 varieties and has an annual turnover of 556,608 tonnes of fresh dates. But owing to non-availability of proper storage facilities, most of the crops are lost.

During 2003-2004, I had a chance to attend a seminar in D.I. Khan that pertained to the quality management system. During the question-answer session, one of the producers of dates in the area got up and said: “I have a huge quantity of the finest quality dates in my godown which I can’t export because of the non-availability of processing facilities in my area. You tell me where should I take this huge quantity? I am suffering a colossal loss owing to the non-availability of such facilities.”

The seminar organisers had no answer. The date farmers almost resorted to quarrelling with the organisers of the seminar.

Billions are squandered in worthless projects but there is no money available to be spent on genuine ones. How much would it cost to establish processing and cold-storage facilities in date-producing areas?

With the establishment of these facilities, the farmers of these areas will definitely be encouraged and they will do their utmost to take the production of dates to its maximum level.

Air-Cdre (r) Azfar A Khan

Islamabad

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2017