Millions of Haj and Umrah pilgrims as well as visitors from all over the world flock to Madinah, Islam’s second holiest city, to realize their life-long wish of visiting the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and offer prayers at Rawda Sharif.
Almost all of them return from the city after fulfilling their another desire of buying famous dates of Madinah. The authorities in Madinah are keen to preserve this precious wealth of the city which is an integral part of its rich heritage.
A number of senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture unveiled the salient features of their well-planned strategy to preserve the date palm farms in the region. The very number of date palm trees in the region is a telling example of this keenness. There were 1,381,640 date palm trees in the region in 1990. This has shot up to 3,185,907 trees during the last year. The volume of production of various types of dates was about 5,071 tons during the year 1971. This has since jumped to 125,534 tons in 2009.
There has, however, been a shrinking in the total area of date palm cultivation within the borders of the Haram, and this was mainly attributed to the rapid growth of population and expansion of the city in addition to several other factors. However, the cultivation of date palms has witnessed tremendous growth as far as the entire Madinah region was concerned. This was more obvious with regard to Al-Ola region in the province. The total area of date palm farms in Madinah province during the year 1971 was 1,248 hectares. But the statistical figures obtained by Arab News from the Ministry of Agriculture showed that the total area soared to 18,576 hectares during the year 2009.
Omar Obaid Ballahmar, director of the agriculture department in Madinah, said that Al-Ola region ranks first among the date palm cultivating regions in the province. The number of fruit-laden date palms in Al-Ola reached 945,875 while those trees without fruits account for 373,002.
The government is extending all possible support to the date palm farmers. Farmers in Al-Ola region alone have received government loans worth SR2,264,846,881. The farmers are beneficiaries of the irrigation projects implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture. The government is also extending various types of other services such as consultancy services pertaining to various aspects of cultivation, harvest and methods to fight against insects.
Arab News attended a workshop focusing on the problems facing the date palm cultivation in the region. A field tour to the date palm farms in the region was also conducted on the sidelines of the workshop. Two prominent scientists from King Saud University of Riyadh — Saleh Al-Dosary, supervisor of the date palm research chair, and Younus Khan, researcher at the chair — addressed the workshop and led the field tour. The tour covered farms of a number of leading Saudi farmers, such as Dakheel Al-Ahmadi, Abdul Aziz Ilyas, and Mohsen Al-Radadi. During the inspection tour, demonstration classes were held. The scientists showed examples of the common diseases affecting the date palm trees, such as red date palm weevil and explained about the ways to combat them. They also showed how to treat such diseases besides giving necessary instructions in this respect.
Source: Arab News
By MUHAMMAD HUMAIDAN | ARAB NEWS
Published: Aug 2, 2011 02:59