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Problems of productivity and marketing of dates

Scope for the development of dates industry in Pakistan continues to be fairly wide

By Hashim Abro, G.A.khaki
Mar 05 - 11, 2001

Pakistan is the fifth leading dates producer in the world. Its annual date production is more than 535000 tons. But very little focus has been paid to its research, production, preservation, processing and marketing. The world dated production is one the rise. It has increased by 166% during the last three decades. But it is on the decline in Pakistan. There are in fact hundred and one reasons for this sorry state of affairs.

Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) has been cultivated from a remote antiquity. Folk belief goes like this that it was brought by the Arabs as an item of ration in Sindh. They threw date seed at camping places and introduced the date palm in the sub continent. However, Sir J. George quoting De-candole has described that the date palm existed from the pre-historic time in Indo-Pak in then excavation of Mohen-Jo-Daro. It bears the testimony of the fact that this plant was under cultivation in Sindh during 2000 years BC.

Dates enjoy great importance as staple food as well as dessert. They contain sugar, carbohydrates, niacin, vitamins A&B, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc magnesium sulfur copper, phosphorus and protein. Pakistan dates are best for table fruit, dates syrup manufacturing, dates liquid, sugar manufacturing, dates paste manufacturing, dates block manufacturing and dates are bar manufacturing. Dates are cholesterol and sodium free. Till maturity dates are consumed in different ways such as Doka (Khala), Dang (Mid-Rutab), Wan -Pakki (Rutab) Katal/Khajoor (Tamar) and chuhhara (Dried Dates). Currently dates have found their way into sweets, confectionery, baking products, preservatives salads, breakfast and health food. Elite date varieties of Pakistan are Aseel, Begum Jangi, Muzawati, Dhakki Faseel and Kharbala etc. All these varieties grow at Khairpur (Sindh), Turbat (Balochistan) Panjgur (Balochistan) D.I Khan (NWFP), D.G Khan (Punjab), Bahawalpur (Punjab). Major date selling points across the country are Sukkur, Khairpur, Therhi, Turbat, Panjgur, Dhakki and D.I. Khan.

It is an important crop of the Province of Sindh. Its cultivation is concentrated in district of Khairpur. Key date growing areas of the distract are Khairpur, Kingri Gambet, Sobodero, Faiaz Ganj, Kotdiji and Nara. It occupies an area about 37,000 acres. Each acre comprising on average about 60 palm trees.

It is the first time in the history of Pakistan that ADBP has taken certain steps to activate the research, protection, production and marketing of the dates. The general policy of the Bank is to encourage date palm farming. The point to be ensured for lending in orchard are as under:

1. The land is suitable for the plantation of date palm farming.

2. The proposed variety of date palm trees has been successfully grown in the area, it is early maturing, high yielding of a high quality to give maximum return:

3. Adequate supply of water is available according to the requirements of the dated palm trees to be grown. If the land is irrigated by perennial canal, it should be ascertained whether the Irrigation Department has sanctioned water for the project. If the land is in non-perennial canal area, it should be ensured as to how water should be made available to irrigate the orchard, whether tubewell exists or can it be successfully installed.

4. As this crop is perishable, it should be ensured before sanctioning loan that there are marketing and storage facilities within the reach of the orchard.

As the success of the orchard would largely depend upon the quality of the saplings, it is necessary that they should be purchased only from reliable nurseries i,e from a Government, reputable private, nursery, or from the local farms.

The loans for installation of tubewells and purchase of tractors can be considered as part of the orchard scheme and sanctioned as per procedure detailed under its scheme.

Pakistan's largest export variety Aseel, is mainly grown in the Khairpur district and also production increase about 5% annually in this district.

Scope for the development of dates industry in Pakistan continues to be fairly wide. Pakistan has got a chance to get itself recognised as one of the largest suppliers of quality dates in the world. Aseel of Khairpur has taken the international date market by storm. Domestic sale and export of dates can further be increased substantially if packing and marketing methods are improved, made very attractive and incentives enhanced.

The farmers are totally illiterate and they did not know the proper packing of dates. There is no facility of making the Aseel Chhuhara. The labourer of khajji are not properly paid and there a large quantity of dates are lost.

Improper transportation is another problem of the area. Monsoon rains is also destructed the khajji while transporting it to the factory. The factories are also far from the fields of dates and during transportation a large quantity of dates is badly rotten.

Cultivation of dates palm in district Khairpur Mir's


Area in acres







Sobho Dero


Thari Mirwaw


Ffaiz Guno (Pacca Chang)




Nara (Chondko)


Total area in acres:


Source:- Agriculture Extension Department Khairpur Mir's.