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Despite heatwave, Jordan’s date producers expect 15% production uptick this season

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Jul 25,2023 - Last updated at Jul 25,2023

A view of a date palm farm in the Jordan Valley (Photo courtesy of Mohammad Hilmi)

 

AMMAN — The Kingdom’s production of palm dates is expected to reach 35,000 tonnes in 2023, according to President of the Jordan Dates Association (JODA) Anwar Haddad. 

There are currently over 750,000 date palm trees in Jordan, 85 per cent of which are of the Medjool variety. These are cultivated over an area of over 45,000 dunums, which annually expands by 10 to 15 per cent, according to Haddad. 

The production volume, which totalled 30,000 tonnes in 2022, will rise a further 15 per cent this year, Haddad told The Jordan Times. This year, the sector currently employs 10,000 workers, compared to roughly 8,000 workers last year.

The volume of date exports has also witnessed a significant increase, from 9,000 tonnes in 2021 to 14,000 tonnes in 2022, and current demand indicates that it will increase an additional 12 per cent in 2023, Haddad added. 

This rate of growth requires organising date palm cultivation in a “studied” manner, making best use of the available resources, ensuring a high quality of produce and maximising economic returns, Haddad said.

Mohammad Hilmi, a farm owner in the Jordan Valley, stated that the key challenges for the sector include water scarcity and high labour costs. Hilmi’s farm contains 100 Barhi date palms and 480 Medjool date palms, which are over 15 years old.

The prolonged heatwave has particularly increased palm trees’ irrigation needs, which are already “very high” in the summer, Hilmi added. 

While the irrigation needs of date palms are high, they have the highest economic return per cubic metre of water compared to other crops, Haddad noted. Dates can also be stored for over a year, while maintaining their quality and nutritional value, he added. 

 

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