A date with our glorious past
By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood
Do the words date jam, date ice cream, and date-flavoured milk make you smack you lips in anticipation of deliciousness? Get ready then, for more of these items since the government of Bahrain is working hard to revitalise the date palm and the industry that is built around it.
One of the names that Bahrain used to be known with, was “Island of a million date palms” and it is believed that the gene pool represented by the Bahraini date palm is unique and capable of bringing new insect-resistant hybrids into being.
Indeed, the Third Date Palm Festival which concluded just this week was a timely reminder of our agricultural identity because the date harvest season is around the corner. Everywhere we see date palm trees laden with fruit covered with netting to prevent birds from pecking them.
However, once these fruits ripen, unless it is in a garden with very few date palm trees, you will find that the date fruit simply falls to the ground untended, smashed underfoot and the effort taken to reach this point, wasted.
It was said in April this year that Bahrain was planning to bid for membership of the Saudi-based International Dates Council. This will no doubt open doors for the better harvesting and processing of the date fruit so that, however small our crop (Bahrain currently produces 13,000 tons of dates annually), we can nurture it as a valuable link of our heritage and agricultural history.
There are also plans to plant 6,000 trees annually and recharge our date palm plantations.
There are many things that can be made from date palms, besides by-products of the fruit – pollen water, baskets and building materials, to name a few. We got a glimpse of the many small and micro industries that can be built around the date palm.
Now new technology also allows for more modern products such as date-based diet sugar and we should continue to hold the opportunities alive for our next generation. They should not miss their date with their glorious past.
Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism.