The number of trees planted in Al Najd Agricultural Zone in Dhofar Governorate has soared to over 143,000, which includes about 45,000 different types of date palms trees that yield more than 1,000 metric tonnes of Omani dates per annum.
Al Najd Agricultural Zone, distinguished by its natural and environmental features, covers an area of more than 40,000 sq kilometres. It is one of the most promising agricultural hubs in the Sultanate of Oman, having supporting the cultivation of various types of crops and fruits.
Dr Ahmed bin Suhail al Hadhari, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Omani Agricultural Association in the Governorate of Dhofar, said the Najd region was home to 111 farms (based on a 2019 survey).
The cultivation of palm trees is concentrated in the areas of Al Hela, Hanfeet and Al Shasr, he said, adding that harvests are rising year on year. One such farm, with around 12,000 date palms, is expected to start yield about 300 tonnes of fresh Omani dates starting from this year. Output is projected to reach 800 tonnes per year within a few years, he noted.
But he acknowledged challenges in the form of the high cost of good quality seedlings, placing them beyond the economic means of local farmers to procure. Furthermore, farmers are lacking in the requisite expertise to care for date palms, as well as skills in date harvesting, sorting and cleaning, he said.
Other produce from Al Najd include seasonal fruits, such as watermelon and melon, which are currently being consumed locally and also exported to neighboring countries. Of late, fresh produce has also included figs, guava, lemon and other fruits, he added.