Saudi Arabia hosts founding meeting of the International Council for Dates

International Council for Dates Kicks off Meetings in Madinah
International Council for Dates Kicks off Meetings in Madinah

Saudi Arabia is scheduled to host in Al-Ahsa governorate, Eastern Region, on February 15-16 the founding meeting of the International Council for Dates set to discuss technical and sector issues and work plans, elect the president of the council and members of the executive body, approve the council’s strategy and announce the establishment of the International Dates Council based in the Kingdom.

International Council for Dates Kicks off Meetings in Madinah
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The meeting will be attended by the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, several agriculture ministers and representatives of several countries producing or importing dates worldwide and invlolved organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), and the Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD).

The Ministry's Undersecretary for Agriculture Ahmed Al-Ayada said the International Dates Council currently includes in addition to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen. He added that new countries have been approved to join the council.

They include Bahrain, Egypt, India, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, he said.

He noted that the council aims to activate international cooperation in the field of dates, implement activities that require teamwork and face challenges facing the sector, address issues of research and production techniques, develop date industries and trade, and raise capabilities to achieve sustainable development of dates at the level of the countries concerned globally and regionally.

Al-Ayada pointed out that the importance of establishing the council stems from the importance of the palm and dates sector in the world, especially in the Arab world, citing that 40 date-producing countries produce 9.5 million tons, where in 2020 the value of date exports amounted to $2 billion.

The official said the palm and dates sector is still a traditional sector of low quality and productivity, suffering from various challenges and obstacles along the value chain, which include weak productivity in the sector, climate change, lack of water resources, management and production techniques problems, risks of insect and disease pests, and weak adoption of good practices and modern technologies,"

"In addition to the high losses and poor efficiency of handling dates after harvest, lack of adoption of quality specifications, the inefficiency of marketing systems and human resource challenges, in addition to poor coordination at the national, regional and international levels, and the lack of information on the sector and other challenges, which require coordination and development of a regional strategy to address challenges and bottlenecks to develop this sector.

Saudi Arabia is home to some of the finest types of dates in the world, ranking second internationally in dates production with around 1.5 million tons of dates annually.

Moreover, the Kingdom is among the leading countries exporting dates to many global markets, as the value of its exports in 2020 amounted to about $250 million. It also ranked third in the world in terms of the value of dates exports.

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