Growing scope of Date Palm Cultivation
Date palm farming has become a source of good income for the farmers, know how to start?
Dates are generally cultivated more in Arab countries because the dry climate is suitable for it. India imports about 38 percent of date palm from abroad because it is not produced much in our country. Although some local varieties of dates are produced in the Kutch-Bhuj region of Gujarat, the quality is not as good as the foreign dates. Now gradually date palm is being cultivated in many parts of the country under new experiments. Barmer district of Rajasthan, where there has always been a shortage of water, is also successfully growing dates.
Dates are such a fruit, which has a lot of nutritious elements. There are 3000 calories in 1 kg of dates. Apart from this, it is also an excellent source of vitamins A, B-2, B-7, potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, chlorine, phosphorus, sulfur and iron, etc. This fruit is also grown for high productivity, and its cultivation in desert areas also benefits the environment. Date palm cultivation is helpful in generating employment opportunities and improving the economic condition of farmers in rural areas.
How is date palm grown?
The date palm can be planted from seed or even from cuttings i.e. branches. When grown from seed, there is only a 50 percent chance of a female plant, whereas when grown from a scion, plants usually inherit the characteristics of the tree from which the scion is derived. However, the chances of survival of such plants are less in our country. That’s why the tissue culture method was adopted in date palm cultivation. With this technique, the plants remain stable in date cultivation, and the quality is also good.
Boon for Barmer
Barmer district of Rajasthan has always been struggling with water shortage. In such a situation, the possibility of farming is very less here, and only selected crops like Jowar, Bajra, Moong, and Moth have been grown, but now farmers are getting good income through the tissue culture method of date cultivation. Barmer is a dry and hot area, so date palm cultivation was successful here. The Medjool variety of date palm is grown only here. In western Rajasthan, the date crop is ready a month earlier than in the Gulf countries. Also, the date palm tolerates brackish water, in which other crops cannot grow.
Saplings distributed to farmers
In order to ensure the availability of date palm plants, Barhi, Khunizi, Khalas and Medjool varieties of date palm were obtained from tissue culture techniques and given to the farmers of Barmer in the year 2010-11 under the National Agriculture Development Scheme. This changed the fortunes of the farmers of Barmer.
This is how it started
Initially, 11 farmers planted date palm on 22 hectares. About 156 date palm plants were planted in one hectare at row-to-row and plant-to-plant distance of 8 meters. Technical information was provided to the farmers by Krishi Vigyan Kendra. Along with the subsidy on date palm plants, the Horticulture Department also provided financial assistance for 2 years for cultivation and maintenance of plants. Drip system of irrigation was made mandatory. To promote date palm cultivation in Barmer, Horticulture Department, Government of Rajasthan has also established Government Date Farm and Center of Excellence for Date Palm in an area of 98.00 hectares.
In 2010-11, where date palm was cultivated in only 22 hectares, it increased to 156 hectares in 2020-21. Every year about 150 to 180 tonnes of dates are being produced in Barmer. Farmers have also been inspired to grow dates because of getting good prices in the market.
The successful cultivation of date palm has greatly improved the socio-economic condition of the farmers of Barmer. Along with this, dates became easily available in the market and the dependence on imports was reduced. Not only this, date palm cultivation has also changed the cropping pattern and helped in reducing desertification. In the first 4 years of date palm cultivation, farmers can grow intercrops like green gram, moth and sesame in the date palm garden itself.
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