3,000 tonnes and counting



ABU DHABI // Almost 3,000 tonnes of dates have been delivered by farmers to the date company Al Fao'ua since the beginning of last week - and the date season still has weeks left to run. By November, the deadline by which date farmers must submit their produce for commercial use, more than 30,000 tonnes are expected to have been harvested and delivered.

In preparation for this year's anticipated record harvest, the date company has invested in larger storage and chilling facilities and increased the number of receiving depots in the region. According to Dr Abdelouahab Zaid, director of the Date Palm Research and Development unit at UAE University, one tree alone can produce almost 50kg of dates and several hundred thousand tonnes are harvested in the country every year.

After the dates are harvested, they are distributed to several date factories, the biggest of which are Al Shadd and Al Dhafra in Al Ain, where the dates are packed and prepared for distribution and sale. The bulk of the production is distributed locally, but "after the local demand is met, the excess dates are then exported to other countries, mostly in South West Asia", said Dr Zaid. There are almost one million date palm trees in Fujairah and the eastern coast area.

While the precise number of date palm trees in the UAE is unknown, the most recent estimate from the Ministry of Environment and Water suggests that there are almost 42 million, with more than 75 per cent located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. So far, there has not been an efficient and accurate method to count the number of date palms, but Dr Mohammed Salman al Hammadi, a professor at the Department of Arid Land Agriculture at UAE University, said a proposal to use satellite imagery was being considered and could be implemented within the next few months.

@Email:talramahi@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Al Ittihad

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