Written in 2001: With the present uncertainty in the world food production and the expected increase in demand for food with a population exceeding 6 billion inhabitants, the date palm offers a
good food source of high nutritive value; this tree gives many date growing countries in remote areas, the main food for a considerable number of people and provides working conditions to
considerable numbers of labourers in the rural areas.
Furthermore, the date palm tree tolerates relatively harsh climatic and soil conditions under which no other crop may give reasonable returns. In fact, date palm which is an irreplaceable tree in
irrigable desert lands, provides protection to under-crops from heat, wind and even cold weather, and plays a big role to stop desertification and to give life to desert areas. Its fruit generate
good income and foreign exchange earnings. Its dried fruit benches, fronds, leaflets fibre and trunks are utilized in many small industries which provide packing materials for local marketing of
fruits and vegetables as well as for many other uses. The tree and fruit by-products offer an extra income.
However, the date palm industry is facing many serious problems, related to low yields, to lack of appropriate packing and presentation and to the limited production of sound industrial date
The estimated average yield bearing date palm tree in the main date growing areas is around 20 kg, which is very low compared to the average yield of more than 100 kg in some date growing areas
(USA, Qassim in Saudi Arabia, Namibia, Israel, for example). The low yields in most countries are due to soil salinity, poor fertility, insect and diseases infestations, lack of maintenance and care
due to increasing cost of labour and to shortage of trained personnel to introduce improved cultural practices. As a result of high cost of production and low prices of the produce, farmers tend to
neglect or even abandon their gardens.
The packing and presentation of dates in local markets and for export at many date growing countries are not up to the standards which attract consumers and increase the demand for this commodity.
The production of high value industrial date products (paste, spread, syrup, liquid sugar, wines, distilled liquors, industrial alcohol, animal feed, organic acids and pharmaceuticals, special foods,
etc.) remains very limited.1
1Date Palm Cultivation - FAO, Rome 2001 Date Palm Cultivation - FAO PLANT PRODUCTION AND PROTECTION PAPER 156 Rev. 1