SRINAGAR: Dates, which are cultivated widely in Middle East and South Asia, would soon be grown in Jammu and Kashmir, which is known for producing various varieties of delicious apples, and authorities are hopeful that cultivation of dates would be a game changer for farmers in the Union Territory.
The horticulture department in February last year cultivated 50 plants of dates on trial basis at one of its nurseries in Vijaypur area of Samba in Jammu region. It would take at least 4-5 years for the date plants to grow and produce yield.
Director Horticulture Jammu Ram Sevak told this newspaper that the department has set up a mother block of 50 date plants in Vijaypur. The date plants were brought from Rajasthan.
“We studied the climatic conditions needed for growth and cultivation of dates and found that dates can be grown in some areas of Samba, Kathua and Udhampur districts of Jammu region. We found these areas have feasible climatic conditions including humidity for growth of the dates,” he said.
He said initially they have prepared a mother block of 50 date plants at their nursery and depending on the result and yield from these plants, the dates can be grown in parts of Udhampur, Kathua, Samba and Reasi districts also. Sevak said date plants are growing well and the experts from Rajasthan visit the nursery to see the growth.
“The experts visited last month and said the growth is growing smoothly. Till now everything is going on in perfect manner and we are hopeful that the date plants will grow and give a good yield after 3-4 years,” he said.
The dates have proven health benefits as it is a good source of antioxidants, mainly carotenoids and phenolics. The date seeds contain higher protein (5.1 g/100 g) and fat (9.0 g/100 g) is also high in dietary fiber (73.1 g/100 g), phenolics (3942 mg/100 g) and antioxidants (80400 micromol/100 g).
According to Director Horticulture Jammu, a farmer can earn Rs 25,000 from a single plant of the date once it grows and starts producing yield.
“We have planted 50 date plants and the average cost per plant has come around Rs 4000. Good care has to be taken of the date tree,” he said.
If their experiment, Sevak said, proves successful and dates trees grow, then it would be a game changer for the farmers of some areas of Jammu region as they can earn a minimum of Rs 2 lakhs from a single kanal of land.
At least eight date plants can be grown in a single kanal of land.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)