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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Eritrea: An Interview With Dr. Abdallah Ben Abdallah

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On the subject of the date palm cultivation, Dr. Abdallah, a broadly revered worldwide skilled, has performed an vital and pioneering position in lots of international locations, together with Eritrea. We had the chance to take a seat down with Dr. Abdallah to speak about his experiences and focus on the event of palm date farming in Eritrea.

Query: Might you please inform us about your background on this subject?

Reply: From a younger age, I had shut familiarity with date palm farming. My father is a date palm farmer within the southern a part of Tunisia. Later, as a Masters and PhD scholar, finding out to be an agronomist engineer, I targeted on the science of date palm bushes and their nature. It’s simply one thing I get pleasure from very a lot and I imagine date palm farming is extraordinarily rewarding.

I began my profession as the primary director of the Date Palm Analysis Middle in Tunisia. I labored there for 10 years. Moreover, for 17 years, I’ve labored as a world advisor for the FAO and a senior date palm specialist, permitting me to go to many international locations, reminiscent of Yemen, Namibia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Eritrea. In 2018, I acquired the celebrated Khalifa Award for Date Palm and Agriculture Innovation, in recognition of my contributions and experience associated up to now palm farming.

Q: Might you inform us about a few of your publications?

A: Till this level, I’ve printed round 40 articles on the subject of date palms. These publications are in main, peer-reviewed journals. I’ve additionally printed books, together with, “The Influence of Good Agriculture Practices on the Manufacturing and the High quality of Dates”, and “The Nationwide Technique for the Date Palm Sector in Egypt”. My largest satisfaction, nevertheless, comes from the truth that I’ve skilled greater than 1000 date palm farmers in international locations world wide.

Q: When did you go to Eritrea for the primary time?

A: I first got here to Eritrea in 2017, once I was appointed by the FAO to be a crew chief of a technical cooperation mission between the FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture. The mission helped lead NARI employees in Halhale to provoke tissue tradition propagating methods for date palm. The mission additionally enhanced date palm farming in varied areas of the nation, in addition to helped in introducing finest date palm varieties and their related technical actions previous to planting. One other vital side of the mission was its capacity-building part, notably because it helped elevate consciousness and understanding amongst native consultants and farmers.

Q: What’s your present mission in Eritrea?

A: By the Ministry of Agriculture, I’m right here for a NAP/IFAD mission. The target is to proceed helping the tissue tradition employees in NARI for propagating date palm in vitro and coaching locals within the Northern and Southern Purple Sea Areas on good date palm cultivation practices. It has been a pleasure to work in Eritrea.

Q: You’re broadly credited for serving to to enhance date palm improvement in Namibia. Are you able to inform us a bit extra about this?

A: Earlier than 1995, Namibia was a rustic the place date palm farming was not well-known. There have been just a few date palms produced from seeds with low high quality dates. In 1996, the federal government started to speculate and likewise requested technical help from the FAO.

Later, with the help of the FAO, a date palm manufacturing programme was carried out over a 5 12 months interval. The programme was launched by piloting three areas: Ersbegin, Naute, and Aussenkher. In these areas solely worldwide varieties, reminiscent of Medjool, Barhee, and Boufagous – had been planted.

As well as, the programme was supporting personal farmers to put money into date palms. We had been distributing 10 date palms to every family, poor farmers, and ladies’s associations. Within the first 5 years, the variety of date palm farmers grew to 50, whereas 14,946 date palms had been planted on an space of round 162 hectares.

Through the second section, which additionally ran for 5 years, this system elevated to succeed in greater than 200,000 date palm bushes that had been producing good high quality dates. These had been Barhee selection and produced a median of 350 kilograms. Quickly, extra personal farmers started to become involved and Namibia grew to become acknowledged as a rustic with high quality dates.

Q: What classes out of your expertise in Namibia and your expertise from dwelling might you share with us?

A: There are a number of, which I’ll attempt to summarize. First, while you begin a brand new date palm sector in a rustic, you will need to work in parallel on three ranges: sectoral/authorities stage, the extent of personal farmers, and the family or communal farming plantation stage. Second, shut technical help that features coaching packages is critical throughout the institution section of the sub-sector for each the manufacturing and post-harvest phases. Third, the choice of good yielding and internationally identified or cherished varieties is vital. Fourth, when a rustic is new up to now palm cultivation, it’s higher and simpler to start out with a number of good varieties.

Q: In your opinion, what are the prospects of date palm improvement in Eritrea?

A: Throughout this primary section, operating from 2017 to 2021, the outcomes of rising and fruiting of offshoots planted in 2017 have been an actual success. One of many elements contributing to this good progress is the wealthy soil across the Purple Coastline. These outcomes affirm the large potential of the Purple Coastline areas for date palm farming.

Thus far, Eritrea, like within the case of Namibia throughout its personal first section, has solely round 20,000 date palm bushes. Nonetheless, if a date manufacturing help programme is correctly carried out, the nation might simply attain 100,000 to 200,000 date palm bushes in simply 5 to seven years.

I discovered from a younger age that the date palm tree is a sacred tree. It may be harvested for greater than 50 years and if nicely managed can bear fruits for 70 years. Furthermore, in every harvest season, which usually happens every year, one tree is ready to produce between 100 and 300 kilograms of dates relying on the variability.

Though many challenges stay, none of them appear insurmountable. Eritrea’s success on this sub-sector might shock the world. I imagine that the institution of a date manufacturing business in Eritrea might help revenue technology, improve international alternate earnings, increase work and funding alternatives, and positively contribute to desertification management.

Q: In your opinion, which areas in Eritrea are most very best for date palms?

A: The perfect areas for rising date palm bushes are the Northern and Southern Purple Sea areas. Some areas in Gash Barka might even have potential. Vital elements, like wealthy alluvial soils, the provision of warmth requirement for maturation of dates from April to September, and underground water, are present in these areas. Throughout my present mission, we’ll attempt to give an order of precedence to totally different areas in each the Northern and Southern Purple Sea areas for planting date palm. Nonetheless, I usually imagine that Eritrea meets many of the necessities that date palm farming wants. The soil is nice, the water is there, and the local weather is right. Eritrea’s local weather is characterised usually by three seasons, which can be an excellent issue suiting the cultivation of various sorts of date palm bushes.

Q: How is your cooperation with the Nationwide Agricultural Analysis Institute (NARI), notably by way of tissue tradition propagation for date palm manufacturing?

A: The employees members of the tissue tradition laboratory are very devoted and enthusiastic. That’s the reason they’ve succeeded in producing date palm vitro-plants, whereas their capability was confirmed by the primary tradition carried out since 2017. They had been profitable and led to the manufacturing of full vitro-plants of date palm from feminine inflorescences. Though some minor issues nonetheless persist, we’ll collaborate and tackle them. It needs to be famous that it’s not simple to propagate date palm by means of tissue tradition.

Q: What are the gaps you’ve gotten recognized in date palm manufacturing within the nation? How do you assess the farms?

A: We planted palms and labored with many farmers within the Northern and Southern Purple Sea areas. What happy me most was the willingness of the individuals to work. The primary steps of rising worldwide sorts of date palm are usually profitable. Nonetheless, there are some farmers who prioritize vegetable crops for irrigation, particularly in Foro and Afabet, and this was negatively affecting the expansion of younger date palms.

In short, the one factor missing in lots of plantation websites is technical data. Nonetheless, that’s set to develop. The following step is selling technical data on the way to produce good high quality dates, execute the bunch administration, harvest dates of various varieties, and deal with, pack, retailer, and market these dates. We may also want some research sooner or later to discover the capability of the nationwide market and worth chain.