Saudi Arabia produces over 1.6 million tons of dates annually  

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia, which produces more than 300 varieties of dates, tops globally in exporting the fruit, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) has announced.

It said the annual output of dates in the Kingdom exceeds 1.6 million tons.

MEWA said the Kingdom has witnessed a 5.4% increase in the export of dates and its derivatives in 2022, compared to 2021. The total quantity of exports exceeded 321,000 tons, with a value of SR1.28 billion

The increase was 121% compared to 2016 when the exports amounted to SR578 million, or 134,000 tons.

As for the dates exports during the Q1 of the current year, there was growth of 2.5% compared to the same period in 2022, with a value exceeding SR566 million. Saudi dates are exported to 111 countries across the world.

Saudi Arabia is seeing huge growth in the production of dates and its derivatives with the application of the latest technologies and the highest quality standards in the process, which led to a boost in exports, placing the country at the top of the list of date exporters globally in 2021.

MEWA said the number of date palms in Saudi Arabia exceeded 34 million trees distributed all over Saudi Arabia’s regions.

Al-Qassim region has the highest number of palms with a total of 11.2 million trees, followed by Madinah with 8.3 million and Riyadh with 7.7 million, while the Eastern region (Al-Sharqiyah) has 4.1 million trees.

The ministry confirmed that the palms and dates sector is one of the tributaries of agricultural production in the Kingdom, which is relied upon to achieve food security and sustainable agricultural development.

MEWA is working, with the relevant authorities, to support and enhance initiatives that contribute to developing the sector in line with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

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Within the framework of achieving these goals, MEWA has adopted a number of strategic initiatives and plans which contribute to increasing the national exports of dates and its products.

It will also contribute to increasing the rates of local consumption and improving agricultural and industrial practices, in addition to offering support and assistance to farmers, as well as providing marketing services and necessary information about the dates sector.

MEWA has established a specialist center for date palms and their development. It contributes to developing the sector, as well as creating an integrated system of services to increase productivity.

The focus of promoting dates is on partnership with the private sector. The center formulates the promotional standard and specifications for different varieties of dates, in addition to improving the quality of dates in accordance with the global market requirements.

MEWA has also established a database for palms and dates, after seeking help from experts and specialists in carrying out various agricultural research in this field and cooperating with a number of agricultural authorities, in addition to local and international organizations.

Regarding international efforts, MEWA said Saudi Arabia has supported the establishment of the International Council of Dates because of its belief in the importance of the sector and the necessity of enhancing international cooperation in the field.

The council’s first meeting was held in Al-Ahsa in the month of Rajab, corresponding to February 2023, which witnessed the presence of a number of agricultural ministers, representatives of countries producing and importing dates, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), and the National Center for Palms and Dates.

The Madinah region is currently witnessing the first harvest of this year’s Rutab crop — Rutab means the stage between the third and fourth ripening of date.

The central date market in Madinah receives abundant quantities of Rutab, most notably Rothana and Ajwa, to meet the daily demand, including the needs of the sales outlets.

The ministry pointed out that part of the quantities sold is exported directly to various regions and cities of Saudi Arabia via closed trucks to meet the demand for Madinah’s Rutab locally.

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