Dates: optimistic suppliers
Mundus-Agri: Disaster struck in Iran’s Khuzestan Province last year as only 12% of the Estamaran dates produced here could be exported, marking a 50% slump in shipments. With harvesting in full swing suppliers are confident that things will improve this year.
Exports to improve
Local agricultural organizations report that the growers in Khuzestan started harvesting raw (Kharak) and semi-ripe (Rotab) dates at the beginning of September. Date harvesting will continue until mid-October. Khuzestan’s palm groves span an area of 42,900 ha, of which 36,700 ha are fertile and provide employment for more than 22,300 people. The growers here cultivate more than 75 different types of dates, of which the most important types are Estamaran, Barhi and Zahedi and Kabkab dates. Estamaran is the common name for Sayer dates. This semi-dry variety holds one decisive advantage, namely that it can be stored for up to one year without needing refrigeration.
Small wonder, therefore, that Estmaran dates make up the lion’s share of production in Khuzestan. While agricultural organisations estimate the province’s production of semi-dry and dried dates at 187,000 mt, Estamaran dates account for as much as 150,000 mt of these volumes. Suppliers are confident that 90,000 mt will be exported this year, mainly to Central Asia and to Europe. Trouble, however, is that Khuzestan’s date exports are shipped through the customs and ports of other provinces, which prompted exports to slump by 50% last year. Suppliers are, therefore, calling for exports to be conducted directly from the province.