Iraq's date palm tree revival

Government program aims to increase date palm numbers

BAGHDAD, August 26 — An official from Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture says the current number of date palm trees in Iraq stands at 17.5 million and is projected to reach 25 million by 2027, with the launch of a government program aimed at propagating rare varieties of the tree.

Hadi Al-Yasiri, Director of the Horticulture Department at the Ministry, said in a statement to Al-Sabah newspaper: “The Ministry, which has approved a comprehensive plan for date palm development in the country, has prepared a program to propagate rare palm varieties, both within Iraq and in other countries. This includes the ‘Majhoul’ variety, known for its scarcity and difficulty in propagation due to the rarity of producing offshoots from the mother tree, unlike other date palm varieties which typically yield between five to ten offshoots every three years.”

Iraq is renowned for its prized date palms, which numbered as high as 33 million in the mid-1970s, with over a third of them located in Basra.

Al-Yasiri further explained: “The propagation program will rely on two main approaches: tissue culture, the latest global technique, and seed propagation. The latter will be experimental and research-based. The number of offshoots for this program is limited to only 100, distributed between two locations: one in Mandali district in Diyala governorate and the other in the holy city of Karbala.”

Al-Yasiri clarified that the Majhoul variety can fetch up to 6,000 Iraqi dinars per kilogram in the local markets due to its high quality and unique specifications. He disclosed that the tissue culture propagation phase will commence in January of next year.