From Israel to India: Barhi dates in for bumper crop
Preparations are in full swing as Indian farmers get ready for a bumper harvest of Barhi dates with early forecasts predicting record yield this summer.
It has been a decade since Barhi date tissue culture plants were first imported to India from Israel. Production of the fruit has taken some time to get off the ground and produce high yields, but this year’s harvest is set to be the best yet, according to producer Anmol Rattan Sharma from Gorasiya Farm in western India.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com, he described how the company is gearing up to harvest a predicted 1,000 – 1,200 MT of Barhi dates in just over two-months' time.
"The season is going extremely well for us and we have big plans for this year's harvest, which we expect to produce larger volumes than previous years.
"Every year we have managed to produce more and more Barhi dates and we will be harvesting during the last week of June. At this point in time, everything is looking very good; the flowering and pollination has been done.
"The flowers look excellent and we’re expecting a good crop this time, better than ever," Sharma said.
Volumes have been steadily increasing year on year since cultivation first began in India ten years ago. In 2012, Gorasiya Farm produced around 500MT, followed by 900MT in 2013. Predictions for 2014 are up to 1,200MT.
The Indian Barhi date season is earlier than that of competitors in Israel, giving Sharma the opportunity to broker export deals in the Middle East and Europe. Gorasiya Farm is currently in talks with Mumbai exporters to negotiate a deal to supply the Pakistani market. The company will also continue to supply the domestic market in Calcutta.
"In relation to the European market, we have appointed some exporters who are located in Mumbai and from here our dates will be exported to Germany, France, Italy and the U.K.
"This year we’re also planning to export to Pakistan and we are looking to target Dubai as this is a very important market for us. We want to get our dates out to as many different countries as possible.
"We are able to do this because our season comes much earlier than the season in Israel, so we can really take advantage of this and supply a lot of different markets located all over the world without any direct competition. This is why it is so important we have good production to meet the demand," Sharma added.
Barhi dates are grown mainly in the Gujarat region where the desert climate, sandy soil and temperatures are well suited for date production.
The fruit is eaten fresh and has a yellowish-golden color when ripe. Gorasiya Farm's dates are available in 500 gram plastic punnets as well as in glass jars for premium retailers.
Photo: Gorasiya Farm