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Production of Dates in Pakistan

  1. GATT: The implications on local industry
  2. Shipbreakers fear collapse of industry
  3. Production of Dates in Pakistan
  4. EC-Pakistan Economic Co-operation: The Asia Invest Facility
  5. China holds Pakistan in high esteem: Lu Shulin
  6. Performance of Pakistan's economy
  7. Need for improving corporate governance
  8. FACTS

Date Show 1999, organized by EPB, stresses for loan facilities to date growers

Sep 20 - 27, 1999

While the farmers generally look for timely rains to harvest a better crop, it is a reverse case with the date growers. Since the rain damages the date crop, the date growers always pray for dry weather.

During July and August, when the date palms are in full bloom, the date growers, due to lack of scientific and technological facilities, use spiritual methods as preventive measures to save crop from monsoon rains. "Taweez" hanging by date trees is a common feature in date growing areas in Sindh and Balochistan.

Monsoon rains damage entire date crop. The damaged fruit is harmful for human consumption. The annual production of dates in Pakistan is estimated at around 535,000 tonnes of which only 86,000 is exported, rest of them either consumed locally or perished.

Zulfiqar Ali Khan, one of the judges at the date show, told PAGE that Pakistan earns around $27 million per annum through date exports which does not reflect the real export potential of this sector. The lack of processing and packaging facilities matching to the international standards is another major reason for restricted exports. The processing or packaging facilities, whatever they are, exist in urban centres specially at Karachi. He suggested that since dates are perishable in nature, the processing facilities should be provided at farms to tap the full potential of the crop.

There are more than 300 varieties of dates produced in Pakistan. Out of these large number of varieties, Begam Jangi of Balochistan, Aseel of Sindh and Dhakki of Dera Ismail Khan are the varieties which are much sought after the world over due to their exotic taste. Due to lack of processing and packaging facilities these highly valuable varieties do not fetch their real worth in the export market.

He was of the view that the government should take steps to safeguard the interest of the poor growers by announcing support price of the commodity. He disclosed that generally the growers hardly get Rs 5-10 per kg of dates against the price of Rs30-40 per kg in the local market. The poverty ridden growers are forced to sell their crop at a throw away price in the absence of an organized marketing network in the date growing areas. Arrangements for field packing units can make big difference not only in promotion of exports but a fair return to the hard labour of the farmers.

Syed Ghous Ali Shah, Advisor to Prime Minister on Sindh Affairs, while speaking at the concluding session of a 3-day "Pakistan Dates Show 99", organized by the Export Promotion Bureau, asked EPB to set up a research centre in date growing areas of Sindh to help date growers to develop better varieties of date. There is a need for permanent research arrangement to develop new varieties as well as chemicals for protection of the date crop.

Ghous Ali Shah also suggested that technology for making syrup from the damaged crop should also be evolved in Pakistan, as it is being practised in other date producing countries. He also advised the

EPB to make loan arrangements for the date growers. Financially weak, the date growers generally accept in advance a lumpsum price of the crop from the middleman who offers a price of his choice.

Foreign buyers from Australia and Bangladesh visited the date show. Some non-resident Pakistanis from the US also placed orders.