A success story from seeds in Saudi Arabia

A nursery for dates

A nursery for dates  

REELING UNDER severe drought, he did not keep his fingers crossed for rain nor let it bog him down. Instead, planted 50 saplings of dates in his farm.

And that brought about all the change!

When Nizamuddin, employed at a dates nursery in Saudi Arabia, returned to Krishnapuram in Dharmapuri, he carried with him a packet of dates seeds.

Amidst formidable criticism from farmers that dates would grow only on deserts, seven of the 50 saplings thrived, one of them male.

This was possible as the climate and soil conditions in Dharmapuri are similar to that of Saudi Arabia.

The varieties, Makdumian, Sukri, Muscat, Hajuva and Kalima, yielded 150-300 kg per year fetching him up to Rs. 1,200 - Rs. 1,300 per kg for special varieties.

Nizamuddin says: "On seeing my success, many farmers have now not only started cultivating dates but also approach me for guidance and support.

"I have even created my own nursery from which saplings are sent to different parts of our State and the neighbouring Karnataka and Kerala."

Cultivating dates requires less maintenance and is similar to that of coconut.

The plant grows even in extreme drought conditions. But effective practices such as drip and sprinkler irrigation is bound to increase the yield, he says.

His nursery now has 70,000 saplings together in all five varieties, and there are about 20 nurseries in the State and Kerala that also provide marketing support.

The country had imported dates for Rs. 1,600 crores in 2000. By increasing domestic yield, he says, we can cut down on imports.

Steps are being taken for cultivation and export of saplings and dates on a large scale from the State.

Now this is a story that reiterates, no constraints can stop innovative people who are willing to take risks.

By S. Prasad in Dharmapuri

Photo: N. Bashkaran

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