Dr Ahmed bin Nasser al Bakri, Under-Secretary for Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources said that Nakheel Oman Development Company, the investment arm of the Million Date Palms Project (an initiative of the Diwan of Royal Court), plans to produce 85,000 tonnes of dates and its derivatives by 2025.
Dr Al Bakri said, during the first international forum on ‘Developing Practices of Marketing and Promotion of Dates’, that Nakheel Oman Development Company — founded by Oman Food Investment Holding Company and Oman National Investments Development Company — is the country’s flagship and one of the world largest date palm products and by-products producer. Nakheel industrial complex, located in Nizwa — planned for opening for Q1 of this year — specialises in transporting, storing, sorting, manufacturing and packing dates according to the highest standards and international practices in the food industry.
The Under-Secretary said that palm trees are historically, strategically and economically important in the Arab region and the GCC countries. The Arab region produce 77% while the GCC countries produce 21% of the global production of dates.
Date palms are the largest crop in the Sultanate of Oman in terms of number and spread, where there are approximately 9 million date palm trees and about 325 varieties. About 62,000 acres of land are allotted for date palms cultivation. The Sultanate of Oman comes second in GCC countries, and eighth globally in terms of total production of dates.
“The national strategy for the promotion of date palms has contributed to the increase of dates production, which reached 374, 000 tonnes in 2021, an increase of 49 per cent from 2005 to 2021.”
Last year, Nakheel Oman Development Company launched an initiative called ‘Ghars’ as part of its efforts to support Omani farmers and achieve self-sufficiency in food. The initiative aims to sell date seedlings, called Al Fardh, to farmers and institutions through three chosen outlets – Agricultural Textile Centre in Bahla, Al Kamil wa al Wafi and Al Najd Farms.
Shipments of dates were sent to India and Singapore, in line with the efforts to increase the country’s national income by enhancing the global market of Omani products.
As for marketing and promotion of the dates sector, Al Bakri said, “The Ministry has implemented 8 local festivals specialised for Omani dates from 2013 to 2022 which benefitted more than 500 in the field of production, manufacturing and marketing of dates. It also contributed to opening outlets and markets for dates and their derivatives and providing job opportunities to many Omani youth."
The first international forum on ‘Developing Practices of Marketing and Promotion of Dates’ is organised by the International Dates Council in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources and is being held at the Sheraton Muscat Hotel.