Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 19 – The sixth international conference on date palm brought together date palm growers, industry executives, as well as traders, government officials, and nutrition specialists. It provided an occasion to discuss growing date palms with less water in the face of climate change, mechanizing production, and fighting insect infestation, among others.
Kamel Shideed, ICARDA’s assistant director general, also signed a letter of intent with Abdelouahhab Zaid, secretary general of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation – the UAE government’s date palm research arm and the organizer of the conference also known as KIADPAI. The letter encourages exploring areas of collaboration and sharing information related to date palm production and nutrition.
Minister of State for Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform H.E. Dr. Abdel-Moneim A-Banna and FAO’s Director General Graziano da Silva were also present during the letter signing.
“Right now, Saudi Arabia is the only net exporter in the region with a positive trade balance,” Boubaker Dhehibi of ICARDA said. “The date trade patterns among the GCC countries show that there is a wide scope of coordination for these countries,” he added, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional intergovernmental organization.
Mustapha El Bouhssini, entomologist with ICARDA, introduced new guidelines on managing date palm pests and diseases. The guidelines presented innovative techniques, including how to control pest communities and the role of chemicals conveyors in pest management.
“This book is for researchers and extension agents anywhere in the world,” said El Bouhssini, “so that they can learn to manage numerous pests and diseases that threaten sustainability of the date palm sector.” He thanked the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the Abu Dhabi Farms Services Center for their technical and financial support in developing the publication and acknowledged the Gulf Cooperation Council and the UN’s IFAD for their contribution.
Other ICARDA work presented includes selecting bio-pesticides for controlling infestation by borers and mites; reducing post-harvest loss by improving the drying process using polycarbonate houses; additionally, an ICARDA study in Oman demonstrated that the adoption of liquid pollination could improve date palm productivity.