Dates Plam

The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is considered to be the oldest among the cultivated tree fruits. It is a prominent tree of desert Oasis. Date palm is considered a symbol of life in desert because it tolerates high temperature, drought, and salinity more than many other fruit plants.

Date palm is believed to be indigenous to countries around the Persian gulf of the Middle East where it has been cultivated for atleast 6000 years. The dates were already commercially grown and appreciated by people in Mesopotamia (Southern Iraq) as far back as 3000 B.C. It has been under cultivation in Egypt since the prehistoric days. On the basis of Mohenjo-Daro excavations, the date palm was cultivated in Indo-Pakistan as early as 2000 B.C. In the Old World, the date growing areas stretched from Indus valley in the East to Tunisia.

The date land in Southwards fall up to Sudan, then follow the coasts of the Red sea and Gulf of Aden, northern part of Somalia and Southern Coast of Arabia. In Western hemisphere, the date palm was introduced in the late 18th or early 19th century by the Spanish missionaries. The principal date growing countries in the world are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE and Pakistan. The other major date growing countries are Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Oman, Libya and Tunisia. Date palm is grown in more than 40 countries. The annual world production of dates is around 7.52 million tonnes out of 1.15 million hectares area. Arab countries produce 5.4 million tonnes annually and possess 70 percent of the world date palm production. Pakistan is the fifth largest dates producing country having production of 6.2 lakh tonnes which is 9 percent of the total world production of dates.

In India, date palm is cultivated commercially in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Efforts are made to grow date palm in Haryana and Punjab. It is estimated that total population of date palm trees in India is approx 105 million trees covering an area of 80000 hectares. At present India is importing Chhuharas (dry dates) and Khajoor (Soft dates). To meet the need of this fruit, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research sanctioned a Coordinated Scheme for the Improvement of Date palm in 1955 at Abohar. This place was considered to provide congenial conditions for date cultivation due to scanty rainfall (23-30 cm) with sufficient canal irrigation facilities.

During 1958, a good number of suckers of twenty cultivated varieties from the USA were brought at Abohar station. In addition, 30 other varieties were procured from Muscat, Egypt, Aden, West Pakistan and from within the country up to 1961-62. Since then, research on different aspects of date growing has been continuing at Abohar and good progress has been made on propagation and curing of fruits. To further step up the work on date, ICAR has sanctioned another scheme during 1976 for Abohar (Punjab), Jodhpur and Chandanwal (Rajasthan) and Kheebi (Gujarat). Later on, a research scheme on date palm was also introduced at Bikaner (Rajasthan).

Presently date palm is cultivated in coastal Saureshtra, i.e. Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, north Gujarat; Jaisalmer ‘Barmer, Bikaner’ Nagaur, Jodhpur, Churu and Sri Ganganagar districts of Rajasthan, Hisar in Haryana and Abohar in Punjab. In Kutch, approx. 14 lakhs heterogeneous date palm trees are spread over about 12500 hectares yielding about 85500 tonnes of fresh fruit annually.

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