The date palm tree is believed to be the oldest plant man had known. An integrated tree, the date palm shoots up 25 meters high and has benefits uncountable.
Its fruits, the dates, constitute an ideal and sufficing food, thanks to their content of major nutritional substances that include sugars, acids, minerals, fats, proteins, vitamins and fibers, in addition to anti-cancerous substances.
According to the Sudan Trade Point, Sudan ranks eighth in the World with respect to the cultivation of date palm trees and the production of dates.
Sudan mainly produces dry and semi-dray dates. The country exports a humble 5% of its big annual product of dates, shipped to Egypt, Libya and some African states.
Professor Ahmad Ali Genaif, who chaired the Council of Trustees of the Society for Cultivation and Care For Date Palm Trees, said Sudan has the capacity for extensive cultivation of date palm trees, more than any other region in the World.
He said though the cultivation of date palm trees is confined to certain areas in Sudan, recent studies have revealed that the date palm zone can expand south to latitude 11, near Sinnar City. The growing of these trees can also expand westwards where the environment is conducive like what has taken place in Kutum region of Northern Darfur. The tree can also be expanded eastwards where it can help in badly-needed food security.
There is mounting global interest in the consumption of dates and the expansion of date production can boost Sudan's exports of this fruit. "Dates are a safe and integrated food and the research on their production has developed very much. Date palm trees are now being introduced in some European and Asian regions in environments similar to the original date palm environments," said Prof. Genaif.
Genaif has advised the introduction of new date palm trees varieties in Sudan in coping with the global demand. He also called for encouraging Sudanese and foreign investors to launch date treatment and packing factories to boost the country's exports and raise the farmers' income.
Genaif has also called for setting a date marketing center that can open doors for its marketing abroad, urging the government to pay due attention to scientific research on this product along the example the late President of the United Arab Emirates(U.A.E), Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan, who paved the way for a bright future for his country's production of dates.
"We should also benefit from the effort of the World Food Organization (FAO) to promote date production," Genaif said, citing in this regard the FAO role in Namibia that forty years back did not know the date tree but now exports dates to France.