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Pakistan world's fifth largest date producer.

Byline: Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon

Saudi government gifts 80 tonnes dates for people of Pakistan. The Saudi government recently handed over a gift of 80 tonnes of dates to the World Food Program for distribution among the needy people of Pakistan to help meet their nutritional needs.

The World Food Program would distribute the dates amongst the registered families on behalf of the government of Saudi Arabia. The donation has come from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre that has emerged as an international model of excellence for the provision of humanitarian aid. Saudi Charge d' Affairs Habiballah Al-Bukhari said the gift of the dates to Pakistan was an annual feature and reflective of the fraternal bonds between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Table 1: Area and Production of Dates

###Area###Production

Year

###(000 Hecters)###(000 Tonnes)

2012-13###89,746###524,612

2013-14###89,658###526,749

2014-15###91,145###537,204

2015-16###91,850###540,305

2016-17###92,350###550,050

Table 2: Exports of Dates (Dried)

###Quantity###Value

###Year

###(Tonnes)###(Rs. Million)###(US$ 000)

###2012-13###146,343###6,667###68,810

###2013-14###151,708###7,507###72,966

###2014-15###8,832###6,244###61,642

###2015-16###114,500###7,293###69,966

###2016-17###175,163###10,644###101,662

Table 3: Exports of Dates (Fresh)

###Quantity###Value

Year

###(Tonnes)###(Rs. Million)###(US$ 000)

2012-13###9,781###703###7,271

2013-14###14,742###1,495###14,528

2014-15###26,966###2,092###20,650

2015-16###11,386###1,095###10,509

2016-17###13,043###1,307###12,484

Pakistan is one of the largest date producers in the world. Most of the country's produce comes from Sindh, where date farming is spread over 92,000 acres. More than 200 varieties of the fruit are grown in the province. Nearly 70 % of the province's cultivation is done in Khairpur district, around 450 kilometres from Karachi, due to suitable climate.

The tremendous growth in date farming took place just after the Sukkur barrage was completed in the mid-1930s as the irrigated soil became more conducive for date palm. Agriculture is central to Khairpur's economy and date farming is the main source of livelihood for the residents.

Production: Dates are among few fruits that are grown in all four provinces of the country over an area of about 92,350 hectors. The annual production of dates in Pakistan is estimated 550,000 tonnes. Sindh contributes around 50% of dates produced in Pakistan of which 90% comes from the date palms of Khairpur. Pakistan falls in such an agro-ecological region where dates can grow on a large scale with superior quality. Pakistan is the world's fifth largest date producer and ranks second after Iran among its neighbours.

In Pakistan there are more than 160 varieties of dates palm in the country, among them the popular varieties are: Aseel, Zahidi, Fas Maazwati, Dhakki, Kharbalian, Begum Jangi, Dagh, Goakna, Tota, Karwan, Hillavi, Khudrawi and Mozawati Gulistan, Jowansur, Lango, Sabzo, Kharuba, Karbala, and Kupro.

Aseel of Khairpur, Dhakki of D.I.Khan and Begum Jangi of Mekran are best of all varieties of dates grown in Pakistan in terms of demand and popularity due to their exotic taste. These varieties have surpassed by none and are matched with Deglet Nour, Zahidi and few others of world most popular dates. The harvesting season for dates starts in July and runs till September the local fresh dates, therefore, hit the markets after mid-Ramazan. . Area and production of dates in Pakistan are given in Table-1.

Growers plant an average of 60 trees per acre, with each tree bearing 100 kilograms of dates. A large portion of the produce, around 550,000 tonnes, is transported to the markets of Khairpur and Sukkur. At least 10 people are required to handle 100 date palms when the harvest is in full swing. In the off season, however, the task can be done by two people.

Therefore, an estimated 450,000 workers look after the farms in the season for up to at least a month compared to 90,000 during the off season. Nearly 80%-90% of these dates are dried (called chhuhara) and then put in gunny bags and taken to the market. However, a large quantity of dried dates is exported to our neighbouring countries. The remaining soft dates are in demand in both local as well as international markets.

Dry dates are the main produce in terms of volume and value. They are handled at the date markets of Khairpur and Sukkur by more than 200 traders, nearly two dozen active exporters and around 5,000 workers. Soft dates are processed in local factories. There are 20 such factories, of which 10 are regularly involved in the export business.

Each factory employs around 200 people on an average, making the overall workforce to 4,000. Each worker takes home Rs 400 to Rs600 daily. These workers perform various processing tasks. However, a major part of the processing (grading, cleaning, pitting and dicing) also takes place in houses and cottages where three to four times more volume is handled than factory workers. This indirect workforce is estimated to comprise 12,000 to 15,000 people, almost all of whom are women.

Exports: The export market of dates requires compliance of global food standards, hence it has different dynamics. Export of dates from Pakistan increased from Rs.7.37 billion (US$ 76.08 million) in 2012-13 to Rs. 11.95 billion (US$ 141.46 million) in 2016-17, thus showing an average increase of 12% per annum. Pakistan receives low prices of its dates as compared to other export countries like, UAE, Egypt and Tunisia because of low standard and lack of value addition. Exports of dried and fresh dates from Pakistan are given in Table-2 and Table-3. Importers of dates such as India, USA, UK, Germany, Denmark and Canada are re-exporting Pakistani dates after quality enhancement and preparation of byproducts, at a price that is four to six times higher than their import price. Pakistan imports dates to meet local demand almost every year in the month of Ramazan.

Imported dates are processed in comparison with the local ones thus are more appealing to the consumers and for this reason for importing dates. The major markets are India, USA, the UK, Bangladesh, Germany, Canada and South Africa. Country-wise exports of fresh and dried dates are given in Table-4 and Table-5.

Table 4: Exports of Dates Fresh

###Quantity: Tonnes

###Value: Rs. Million

###2016-17###2015-16

Country

###Quantity###Value###Quantity###Value

U.K.###5,068###495###4,106###401

U.S.A###2,268###245###2,538###278

Turkey###826###76###126###12

Saudi Arabia###345###41###268###32

Germany###1,641###166###1,434###148

Denmark###779###64###902###68

Canada###302###37###115###18

India###451###44###591###21

Italy###149###13###--###--

Lithuania###315###30###175###11

Latvia###198###23###90###9

Bangladesh###291###33###527###49

Japan###190###14###326###21

Netherlands###100###11###64###8

All others###120###15###-24###19

Total###13,043###1,307###11,386###1,095

Table 5: Exports of Dates Dried

###Quantity: Tonnes

###Value: Rs. Million

###2016-17###2015-16

###Country

###Quantity###Value###Quantity###Value

###India###171,004###10,366###113,146###7,169

###Bangladesh###2,811###150###451###26

###Germany###591###56###162###18

###Japan###126###10###100###8

###Saudi Arabia###88###7###50###6

###South Africa###95###8###21###1

###UAE###147###13###106###8

###U.K###108###11###206###26

###Qatar###23###2###15###2

###All others###170###21###243###29

###Total###175,163###10,644###114,500###7,293

Solar Technology: Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has built capacity for date growers to use solar technology for drying of dates by developing a Solar-cum-Gas Fired Date Dryer for the dehydration of dates.

This system can reduce post-harvest losses and improve quality of dates. Five solar drying systems have been installed in Khairpur and Sukkur Region of Sindh Province at Pano Aquil, Pryalo, Pir Jo Goth, Therhi and Hayyat Solangi in date production areas of Sindh.

Prospects: Khairpur and Sukkur are the main date producing regions where monsoon season coincides with the harvesting season every year. Rain water is regarded as the major source of decay present on the palm trees or lying over a vast land for drying purposes The number of highway shops selling dates and its products is above 200, with daily average earnings of Rs1,000 to Rs2,000. Therefore, date farming is benefiting thousands of households, with major beneficiaries being women who find decent opportunity to work in their area and enjoy financial empowerment by contributing a significant share in the household earnings.

Apart from Khairpur, the farming of dates has also spread to Sukkur, Ghotki and Naushahro Feroze districts of Sindh. The growers have adopted the traditional methods in cultivating the plant and nursing it for at least two to three years. The plantation was made by keeping a required distance between each palm so that it should enjoy good environment and space to flourish for bearing quality fruit.

References

1. Ministry of Food Security and Research, Government of Pakistan

2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

3. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

4. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
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Publication:Pakistan Food Journal
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 31, 2018
Words:1755
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