Biodiversity and Variation in Nutritional Properties of Pakistani Dates
- What are the nutritional properties of different date varieties? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different varieties for the farmers?
- How can the shelf-life of dates be enhanced?
- What is the value-chain of date palm products? Who are the key stakeholders and what are the institutions involved in the value chain of dates and other by-products? And how can the date value chain be linked with biochemical and nutritional analysis?
- What policy guidelines can be recommended for a sustainable value chain of Pakistani dates?
- What activities should be undertaken by Agri Extension services in the context of sustainable date values chain and decent living for the farmers?
- What is the extent and pattern of bio-diversity of date-palms in different regions of Pakistan?
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the major fruit crops of Pakistan along with mango and citrus. While Pakistan is one of the biggest sellers of dates in the international market, little is known about the effects of date productions on the livelihoods of producers and the associated actors along the value chain1. It is well known that dates are a good source of energy, vitamins, and elements like phosphorus, iron potassium, as well as a significant amount of calcium. However, little is known about the varietal differences in these properties. Also, the socio-economic conditions of date palm areas are often poor with a high incidence of food insecurity and low Human Development Index. People living in marginal rural areas where date palm cultivation is contributing significantly to livelihoods have limited income opportunities. The present research proposal will be implemented in the most marginal and resource-scarce areas of Pakistan (Turbat, Makran and Panjgur (Balochistan), Mazzafargarh, D.G. Khan, Bahawalpur and Jhang district of Punjab, Khairpur, Mirpur Khas and Sukkur in Sindh and D.I. Khan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province).
The project aims at a systematic analysis of (i) the role of dates in local livelihoods (ii) the functioning and role of market-oriented value chains, and (iii) the varietal effects of date palms on the nutritional properties of dates. The role of Agricultural Extension Services will also be analysed with respect to its potential to contribute to the enhancement of benefits in the date value chain to small and medium households involved in producing and marketing date palm products. This research is based on first-hand data obtained through on-going PhD and MSc research by University of Agriculture Faisalabad students currently working on date palm diversity and usage patterns with short-term ICDD MSc scholarships.