Abu Dhabi launches date palm services
Abu Dhabi, December 19, 2011
Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC) has launched a comprehensive date palm service in line with its efforts to promote the agricultural sector in the emirate by adopting latest technologies and best practices.
At the forefront of this season’s date services is the Improved Date Palm Nutrition Programme, which will treat 87,500 trees on 175 farms in Abu Dhabi with controlled-release fertilisers, soil additives and organic plant food.
These farms will act as a wide-scale demonstration, providing examples and sites across the emirate for training farmers who aren’t participating in the programme, said a ADFSC statement.
In addition, the organization wants to make clear that palm care involves much more than plant nutrition, it added.
The ADFSC is in the process of offering seminars across the emirate, providing training on the complete range of date palm care, from cleaning and trimming palms to fertilisation and spraying for pests.
“This year we’re not only increasing the reach of our date palm services,” said Chris Hirst, CEO of ADFSC. “We’re making a concerted effort to encourage complete palm care,” he noted.
“Cleaning up the trees, removing pest infestations and spraying to prevent further attack are as basic as providing the proper nutrition,” said Hirst. “And then there are issues like proper irrigation, pollination and bunch care.
“It’s a very involved process, but the results can be nothing less than impressive,” he stated.
Last year’s Improved Date Palm Nutrition Programme alone resulted in much improved fruit quality.
Untreated palms’ fruit averaged 120-150 dates per kg, but treated palms averaged 50-70 dates per kg. In addition, 12 farmers who participated in the programme won prizes at the 2011 Liwa Date Palm Festival.
'This year’s programme includes farms in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and additional farms in the Western Region in addition to the 50 farms that participated in last year’s programme. In both Al Ain and the Western Region 37,500 palms will be treated, and 12,500 palms will be treated in Abu Dhabi,' said Hirst.
'The programme relies on fertilisers which ADFSC is working to develop exclusively for use with palm trees. ADFSC has estimated the cost of treatment to be Dh120 ( ) per date palm,' he noted.
By providing the materials free of charge, the organization hopes to encourage the farmers to pay close attention to recommended techniques throughout the growing season, including proper irrigation methods.
“Unfortunately,” said Hirst, “overwatering is a common problem for date palms in much of the emirate.”
In addition to encouraging pathogen development and disease problems, overwatering causes physical damage to the roots while promoting root disease.
To keep farmers and farm workers up to date, ADFSC is providing practical training throughout the production season.
'This will include on-farm demonstrations and informational seminars about date palm care, encompassing all aspects of modern date production, from cleaning and pruning to harvesting, pest control and pollination,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service