India: Barhi date volumes in line to meet Ramadan demand

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India: Barhi date volumes in line to meet Ramadan demand

Crop forecasts for this season’s Indian Barhi dates are looking 'extremely promising' with high volume expectations and an export-ready crop ready for supply in time for Ramadan. 7  Dates palm with Fruits - res - edit

In conversation with, Anmol Rattan Sharma of Gorasiya Farm in western India, explains how maturing trees will produce his highest crop yet, beating yields seen over the last five years.

"The small fruits have started to show on the plant and they will take another four to five months to grow fully, but all the signs are very good," he says.

"We will start harvesting late June or the first week of July and are expecting a bumper crop, much larger in overall quantity as the yield has been increasing year on year.

"Five years ago we were producing around 500 (metric) Tons (MT) and last year we reached 900MT tons and this year we’re targeting 1,200MT."

Sharma first planted Barhi date tissue culture plants several years ago in Gujarat when they were first imported from Israel.

"We have been learning a lot over the last few growing seasons and got much more experienced. The environment and climate have been very good so far during the growing season and we just finished the process of manually pollinating each plant which is a very big job.

"The growing region has a similar soil to that of the desert. It’s like a Middle Eastern environment and that’s why growing is so successful in this part of India because it’s similar to the fruit's growing origins in Israel.

“We are the pioneers of introducing Barhi dates to India and making it a viable crop for India and getting the fruit to such a high quality that it’s ready to export."

Export of Barhi dates

Sharma already trades in Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and several European countries including the U.K. and France. He wants to diversify markets and push for Middle Eastern supply this season in time for Ramadan festivities.

"This year we are also targeting the German market because we know there is demand there and are also exploring the Chinese market.

"In recent years, Ramadan has fallen at a time when there was no date crops coming from the Middle East so we were able to send our product to those markets because dates are in high demand during the Ramadan festivals and celebrations.

"So we intend to do this again this year as Ramadan begins in June and then we can expand our exports to the Middle East and the surrounding Muslim countries.This is a fruit that’s very famous in Muslim countries so we want to take advantage of that." 

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