Posted on June 03, 2011

Ministry of Environment’s Biotechnology Center is cultivating nine varieties of date palm to raise production and meet its demand in Qatar and abroad. The date palm types are resistant to diseases and pests and tolerant to Qatar’s high temperatures and salinity. They will be cultivated using plant tissue culture method.

“This project is considered the greatest plant tissue culture project carried out in collaboration with Agricultural Supervision Authority for two years,” said Masoud Al Marri, Director of Biotechnology Center, Ministry of Environment, in a press conference yesterday.

Masoud Al Marri

One date palm tree can produce 100kg of dates because the trees are resistant to diseases due to biotechnological methods, said Al Marri. “Plant tissue culture is beneficial to other methods because it achieves high production with the same quality of the mother plant which can produce up to 1,000 plants,” explained Al Marri, adding a total of 100,000 date palms will be planted across the country.

He added there are a number of other programmes which are being developed to fight plant diseases and reduce fertilizer use.

Asked by The Peninsula if it is possible for them to cultivate El Ajawa date palm, an expensive varieety, using the method, Al Marri said: “Yes, we can with the helo of this modern technique. The biotechnology lab has been working in Qatar since 1994 and we may also undertake projects for other plants, too.”

Date palms play a significant role in agriculture throughout the Middle East, north Africa and Pakistan. The fruit is a major source of nutrition in the region, and the tree itself plays an important role in the development of sustainable agriculture in many drought and saline-affected regions of the world.

References in the Qur’an have kept alive the use of dates for medicinal purposes over the centuries.

source: The Peninsula