FAISALABAD: Pakistan had been producing 300 varieties of date palms but over time the number has reduced to 50 due to various factors.

However, the country can get much-needed forex by exporting the date through value addition as it is one of the largest date producing countries in the world.

These views were expressed at a meeting held at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on Thursday.

Addressing the meeting and speaking to the participants in the date palm festival, Dr Iqrar Ahmed, the vice chancellor, said Pakistan’s share in date export was negligible in international market although date production could help us get foreign exchange and fight malnutrition and poverty issues.

More than 50 varieties of dates cultivated across Pakistan were put on display at the festival.

Dr Ahmad said value addition in dates production and diversity was mandatory to capture the international markets. He said agricultural economy could be strengthened by adopting the value addition. Currently, he said, production of date palm in Pakistan was about 0.5 million ton per annum but due to traditional methods the export was limited to dry date which is a low-priced commodity.

He said awareness of farmers about value addition, modern technology and pest management would not only improve the economy but also increase productivity and ensure food security.

The UAF is conducting research and teaching in tissue culture to promote the cultivation of better varieties of dates, Dr Ahmed said, adding that there was a need to set up a system of commercial tissue culture at the national level.

Ghulam Qasim, a progressive farmer, said main region for date cultivation was Khairpur district in southern Sindh. He said Pakistan’s date farmers also had a good chance to penetrate the international market with their yield.

He said commercially tissue culture at the national level would help produce the good varieties. He said there were more than 300 varieties of date palms in Pakistan but over time due to various factors the number was reduced to 50.

Dr Amanullah Malik, of UAF said date had gained a special place in Islamic society and palm was one of the innumerable blessings of Allah Almighty on mankind which is of importance for nutrition and medicine use. He said the area under cultivation of palm in Pakistan was 91,145 hectare out of which Punjab’s share was only 5,781 hectare. He said Sindh tops the list of palm production in Pakistan and Balochistan comes second.

About the festival, Dr Samar Abbas Naqvi said the UAF started promotion and research of dates in 2008 so that a new journey of development could be embarked on with the agricultural achievements. Through this festival, the UAF had provided a platform to farmers, agricultural scientists and policymakers so that they could work out a plan of action to solve their problems, he added.

exports: The Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) will send trade delegations to different potential markets to enhance exports.

Asim Munir, chairman of the FCCI Standing Committee on UK, EU and South America said this while chairing a meeting.

He said corona had played havoc with vulnerable economies, pushing them to the verge of collapse. He said shutdowns coupled with closure of airline services had forced exporters to curtail their business activities. He said the FCCI was working to organise trade delegations for Spain, Sweden and South America in December this year, while in February next year trade delegations would be formed for Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

“We will work in an organized manner and before their departure, ambassadors of the countries concerned will be contacted with a request to facilitate the delegations to make these tours productive and result oriented.”

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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