Dates Production in Pakistan

Aseel Date-palm Farm
Aseel Dates Farm in Pakistan

Dates Fruit is the best natural source of sweetness and it is a very nutritious and delicious fruit containing mainly carbohydrates and several types of vitamins, and minerals. A kilogram of dates contains 2500-3000 calories. In Pakistan soft dates are called Khajoor, Khaji or Kharik and dried dates are known as Chhuhahra in local languages (Sindhi, Urdu, Punjabi). Dates are offered in various shapes like pitted, diced, chops, whole etc. Dates are also produced as organic and conventional.

What is Organic Date Fruit? – What are Organic Dates?

Organic Dates are free from any chemical blend or traces and produced in a natural process of farming on a soil without synthetic materials that is why the organic dates preserve natural composition of nutritional contents which are vital for human body. Organic Dates are preferred as a healthy diet and delicious sweet fruit.

Benefits of Dates Fruit

There are many health benefits in dates for humans which also include prevention to many diseases. Pakistani Dates are very famous for flavored taste, softness and sweetness.

Date palm is one of the oldest tree cultivated by man having its origin from Mesopotamia (Iraq) which was brought in to Indus valley. The presence of date fruits in the excavation of Moen-jo-Daro storage vases indicates the presence of date palm cultivation in Sindh as early as 2000 B.C.

Global Dates Production

The leading dates producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Tunis, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Oman and United States of America. Pakistan is rich in producing dates of different varieties and ranks among Top Five world’s largest dates producing countries.

Dates Production in Pakistan

Dates farming in Pakistan is persistently increasing all over Pakistan. The country has held an important position in the world dates markets being a leading exporter.

Dates palms are cultivated in all the four provinces of Pakistan i.e. Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Among all provinces Sindh and Baluchistan are the leading provinces in producing multiple verities of Dates.

The climate and soil of various parts of Pakistan is most conducive for Dates Farming. Interestingly, dates farming is constantly increasing in every province of Pakistan. The prominent dates producing areas of Baluchistan Province are Turbat and Panjgoor. Sindh being the leading province have deep pockets of land located in Khairpur, Sukkur, Ghotki and Naushahro Feroze. The dates’ farming is also developing in Punjab in Muzaffargarh, D.G Khan and Jhang. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, D.I. Khan and Bannu are the main dates producing areas.

Varieties of Dates in Pakistan

There are more than 250 varieties of Dates cultivated on an area over 76,900 hectares in Pakistan. The famous varieties of dates are Aseel, Bhedir, Kharbala’en, Thothar, Fasli of Sindh; Begum Jungi, Shakri, Muzawati, Kahraba of Balochistan; Dhakki, Azadi, Gulistan, Shakri of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and Hillavi, Khudrawi, Shamran, Zahidi and Ziri of Punjab.

The Aseel variety of Sindh has always been accredited as an excellent variety among all the Pakistani Dates in the international dates market.

Dates Processing in Pakistan

Pakistan is also one of the leading country where dates processing industry has been established for more than 30 years. In early 1980’s, one of a leading multinational company established a modern and sophisticated dates processing unit in Khairpur District of Sindh, which was closed after 10 years of its operations. Subsequently few local entrepreneurs realized the potential in the industry and ventured into the dates industry with their limited amount of investment. At present more than 20 dates processing units are working in Pakistan. Most of Dates Processing Facilities are located at Therhi Town, District Khairpur of Sindh Province, which is the largest DATES producing area of Pakistan. The traders and exporters are operating from that area as it has become the main hub of farming and trading activity.

Dates Export from Pakistan

The Dates from Pakistan are exported all over the world in every continent and region including Europe, Asia, Americas, Australia and Africa.

The Dates processing involves cleaning, grading, sorting, pitting, dicing and packing in accordance with buyers’ choice. The local suppliers and exporters deal in all types (varieties) of Pakistani Dates in different forms and shapes including fresh, dried, semi dried, whole, pitted, diced, chopped, de-capped, paste, macerated and block pressed. Moreover, some of the dates processing units stuff or mix dates with a variety of nuts and dried slices of fruit to make value added products and they market it with different brand names.

The processing units which are located in Khairpur district have an advantageous position and competitive edge in Dates Markets due to their presence in the major dates producing area.

The dates selected for processing are graded or categorized as FAQ, GAQ, Industrial, High, A, B, C, Grades and Categories. Most of the processing plants are operating under traditional methods and tools. However, few of them are equipped with modern technology and automatic metal detection scanning machines. Some of the processing plants are also ISO certified by a reputable and renowned inspection firms. Those plants who are involved in export business have also implemented HACCP in their respective production facilities.

The Dates factories are always in demand for skilled people (men and women work force) who operate the industry with hygienic methods while treating dates in different processes. It is amazing to note that most of the factories prefer women work force as they are considered best workers in terms of productivity and quality output. As such dates processing industry has emerged an effective source for women empowerment without any exploitation. The women workforce of dates processing units respectably earn significant amount to assist their respective families.

The most important aspect of the Dates farming and processing is economic prosperity in the areas where farming and processing facilities are crowded. The business of dates particularly with value addition compensates considerably to the growers, factory workers as well as exporters. In 2016, combined dates exports of dry and soft dates touched to US $ 99 million and thus there is a lot of potential to increase the export and domestic trade in this sector.

Required action for addressing issues

At present, dates farming in Pakistan is being carried out under age old methods which are needed to be modernized, though some efforts have been initiated recently at institutional levels. The farmers and growers should be provided tissue cultured plants for cultivation so that they can protect their harvest from climatic conditions particularly monsoon weather effects, which causes vehement losses to the growers in the first place and eventually exporters also bear the brunt owing to decline or non-availability of exportable quality produce. Besides, it is strongly recommended that the growers should also be equipped with modern tools and machines for protecting their fruit from climatic conditions.

The dates processing is substantially working capital intensive industry, therefore they should be incentivized by banks and financial institution with concessional credit lines for buying stock which would result in enhancement of their capacity to achieve higher volumes in export business. This will also contribute to foreign exchange earnings of the Country and also create more employment opportunities particularly for women segment of population.

Leave a Comment