MUSCAT, OCT 30
The eighth edition of the Omani Dates Festival opens today, October 31, 2022 at Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre – an annual event that showcases the increasingly important economic potential behind date cultivation and processing in the country.
The weeklong festival will be inaugurated by Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion. Besides attracting visitors and tourists to the venue, the festival aims to promote Omani date products, introduce new types of Omani dates and encourage farmers and date processors to unlock new value and markets for their products.
The festival, organized by the Ministry of Agricultural Wealth, Fisheries and Water Resources, in cooperation with the SME Development Authority, will also feature a number of creative events and competitions, including an exhibition of photographs on date palms, children's theater, and amusement activities for kids.
Joining date farmers at the venue will be representatives of date processing units from the different governorates of the Sultanate of Oman. They will display varieties of fresh Omani dates, their innovative products and creative marketing tactics.
According to National Centre for Statistics & Information (NCSI), date production reached around 374 thousand tonnes across multiple varieties in 2021. Oman enjoys the longest date production season in the world, extending a total of seven months. The country is home to 9.1 million date palms, representing 9 per cent of the world’s total number of date palms. Around 325 varieties of dates are cultivated in Oman.
The growth of a robust date-based economy in Oman is exemplified by two major initiatives – the Million Date Palms Project, which was launched in 2017 with the aim of achieving socioeconomic returns on date palm cultivation through the application of the latest scientific developments in agricultural processes, commercialisation of dates through modern processing and innovative value-adding techniques and enhancement of the competitiveness of Omani dates in foreign markets.
As part of the initiative, hundreds of thousands of date palms have been planted in 11 sprawling farms distributed across the Sultanate. Output is projected at around 50,000 tonnes of dates per annum in the first phase of operations, rising to 85,000 tonnes by 2034.
Likewise, state-backed Nakheel Oman Development Company is setting up a major plant to oversee the post-harvest operations (from raw harvesting to processing) of the Million Date Palm Plantation Project. The company's innovative investments include a variety of products derived from dates from natural juices (energy drinks, healthy drinks), date paste products and dates syrup products as well as by-products of date palm residues such as natural coal, palm wood panels, animal feed, and others.