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August 23, 2016

Investments in dates processing plants sought


August 23, 2016

SUKKUR: Ex-chief minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah invited local and international investors to invest in the Khairpur Economic Zone to explore the opportunities of establishing dates processing plants. 

Shah, addressing the 8th international dates’ festival, said the country exports 90 million dollars worth of dates a year, “which is a good achievement.” “Local growers as well as the people of Sindh are still not getting benefits from the zone,” he said. “We have to focus on new varieties of dates.”

Researcher Aasia Akbar said the local growers are not using the modern dryer methods to enhance the quality and standards of dates. Akbar advised growers to use cabinet dryers and sun dryers instead of drying the fruits in the open sky.

She also emphasised proper grading of dates in order to attract the foreign market. She also urged the government to formulate a comprehensive policy to impart training to the local growers. Date juices and syrups can also be exported.

The researcher said the applications of the modern harvesting methodology can reduce the post-harvest losses. Qasim Jiskani, a grower from Khairpur, said India has introduced tissue culture in date farming in Rajhistan and Gujrat.

“We need commercial-based research,” Jiskani said. “There is no cold storage, which causes deterioration of the date fruit.” He said maturation plants are used world over during the monsoon rains. There is no training model for the farmers.

The grower said Dubai is using 100 percent drip irrigation technology in agriculture sector, while in India, this usage is 80 percent. “But, in Pakistan the drip irrigation concept is yet to gain popularity,” he added.

Jiskani said there is no insurance for date crop. He said the middlemen dominate markets and exploit the growers, while the government does not set the prices of dates. Saudi government provides 20 dirham subsidy per kilogram to its growers, “but we are not compensated by the government during the losses of product in monsoon rains.”


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