FAO renews support to date palm production

ABU DHABI, The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) today reaffirmed its support to date palm production and development in the Near East region, including tackling the threat of Red Palm Weevil and improving the date palm value chain.

“More than ever, regional and international cooperation is needed to promote knowledge sharing, and to mobilise the necessary funding to support date palm development,” the FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said at the 10th Session of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation (KIADPAI) and the 6th International Date Palm Conference. “FAO will continue to strongly support your efforts in relation to rural development in general, and the date palm in particular.”

During his speech, the Director-General paid tribute to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs for the priority they are giving to date palm development and to the sustainable agriculture development agenda.

The Director-General also paid tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, who is being honored this year for his legacy and services to his people, nation and the world.

FAO and the Khalifa International Award’s Board of Trustees, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the development of the regional date palm network, and to promote the exchange of experiences at regional level.

FAO’s agreement with KIADPAI is a continuation of the UN agency’s close collaboration with the United Arab Emirates in enhancing cooperation on food security issues in the region.

FAO has also renewed its alliance with the Arab Organization for Agriculture Development (AOAD) and the Khalifa Award Secretariat for the protection and sustainable development of the date palm value chain.

“I am very satisfied with the fruitful partnership that we have built with the Arab Organisation for Agriculture Development,” Graziano da Silva said. “Together we are promoting a holistic, market-driven and inclusive approach to develop the date palm value chains in the North East and North African region, with a focus on increasing competitiveness of the local date palm, and promoting the access of small farmers to higher value markets.”

The date palm is a symbol of life in the Near East and North Africa region. It is critical to the food security of the people who depend on it thanks to its unique nutritional properties. The date palm also plays a significant role in the economies of countries in the region, which includes the top 10 date-producing countries, representing 90% of the global date production.

Graziano da Silva told those attending the Khalifa Award that the consumption of dates has increased in Europe and the United States. He said there are therefore increased export opportunities, but it also means more challenges in terms of pressure on local natural resources, in particular water, and more risks associated with transboundary pests and diseases.

Source: Emirates News Agency