By Tamjid Alkohali
In 1917, while the English traveler Angrams was roaming the valleys and the coasts of Shabwa, Hadramout, and Mahara during the First World War, he was surprised at how the people in these areas could overcome famine, which spread to most counties. When he started looking for the secret, he discovered the availability of dates in valleys.
At that time, Angraems wrote in his notebook about the miracle of palm cultivation using old Yemeni proverbs. He said that date is considered the best friend of Yemeni farmers in coastal areas and inland valleys, for they wouldn’t feel hungry or weak as long as they have this date tree.
People in Marib and Jawf consider cultivating dates a sacred activity, so you find them planting dates everywhere, making them a source of food for people all year.
From the beginning of the first week of Ramadan, which begins shortly, farmers will start harvesting dates, which may reduce imported dates significantly this year.
According to official statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, there are 4,680 million palm trees. 7 million of them are considered fruit tree,s which produce at least 150 tons of dates.
Palm cultivation is concentrated in Hadramout, Hudaydah, and other hot climate areas.
A specialist of palm cultivation, Ali Al- Khadar, says that there is dense palm cultivation in Shabwa, Abyan, Saada, Hajjah, and Jawf. However, this cultivation is done in a traditional way due to the lack of modern techniques for planting, production, and marketing, as well as difficult environmental conditions such as lack of rain and the severe drought.
Most dates in Yemen come from three areas. The eastern area produces about 23.46% of Yemeni dates. According to estimates by the Agricultural Research Corporation, the number of palms in this area is 1.75 million, distributed in Hadramout and Shabwa. The average annual production of these palms is 64,925 tons.
In Jawf, Shabwa, Mahra, Marib, and Socotra Island, there are about 650,000 palms, which produce 17,550 tons of dates each year.
Palms in central region extend from Abyan to Saada. There are are about 50,000 palms, which produce 800 tons of dates each year.
The Palms of the western region are the most productive. They produce about 76.41% of the dates in Yemen and are concentrated in Tihama, where there are 7.6 million palms producing 2,774,370 tons of dates annually.
The manager of the Expert Group of Development of Palms, Dr. Abdullah, said that Yemen has many kinds of high quality dates.
“According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 42 species very excellent in which the levels of reducing sugar content exceeding 90% of the fruit, and this number is rare to find in dates of other countries,” stated Abdullah.
Researcher Salem Basalamah showed that there are 321 species of dates, including 42 species representing 13.3% of production, 65 species with good fruit that represent 52.2%, 67 species with acceptable fruit that represent 21.2%, and plants with poor quality fruits representing 13.3% of production.