Growing dates

Every day, hundreds of Pakistanis proceed to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah there. The number of faithful going to the holiest places of Islam to perform Hajj even is more than or around one lakh every year.
After performing Umrah and being blessed with pilgrimage, Pakistanis on return home essentially bring dates, “tasbeehs” and other gifts for their families, relatives and friends. Ajwa, Amber, Barhi , Khalas are popular Saudi dates which Pakistanis bring spending some good amount on buying these from Makkah Al Mukarammah and Madina Munawara. These varieties of Saudi dates are also imported and sold locally at pretty high prices.
Now, it is good to note that under direction of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the Punjab government has launched “Diversification of High Value Cropping Through Promotion of Horticulture” project under which the above-mentioned varieties of Saudi dates along with a Californian variety called Medjool will be grown locally in and around Bahawalpur. Research in this regard has been carried out at the Horticultural Research Station Bahawalpur for some time.
It is also appreciable that in order to promote growing these imported varieties of dates, the plants costing minimum of Rs 20 thousand each will be distributed free among the farmers, each one will be given 100 plants for an acre of land. Distribution of the plants will be done through a draw and in return of getting free plants, the farmers will be required to provide the government at least 5-8 suckers or off-shoots per plant so that these top quality date varieties can be multiplied at home.
The project will take some time to materialize but after imported varieties of dates are grown locally, these will not only become available locally in abundance but also at comparatively low prices and import of these will also come down gradually in due course. The farmers who are going to be provided costly plants free should make their invaluable contribution through hard work and proper care to make the project a success.

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