MME introduces new technique to dry dates

 14 Jan 2018 - 8:43

MME introduces new technique to dry dates
A file picture of a palm tree with dates used for representation.

By Sanaullah Ataullah | The Peninsula

Doha: Introducing innovative ways to preserve stocks of locally produced dates, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment represented by the Agricultural Research Department, has dried five tonnes of dates with the use of an advanced ‘polycarbonate’ technique under a research project.

“The new technique helped dates dry faster, reduce wastage and improve the quality of products,” said Massoud Jarallah Al Marri, head of the Agricultural Research Department at the Ministry in a statement posted on the website of the Ministry.

The research project is part of government’s ongoing food security programme to achieve self-sufficiency in food production in the country. 

He said that the Department established a polycarbonate house at Rawdat Al Furs Research Center where 3,500kg dates produced by Al Tahir palm tree farm at Al Aturiaya and 1,500kg dates produced by Qatar University farm were dried with the help of polycarbonate technique.

“The Department is studying to set up central polycarbonate houses in several areas having big number of farms of palm trees to use it during seasons,” said Al Marri.

“The project of drying dates is one of the key research projects of the Department,” said Al Marri adding that this new research had replaced the traditional way of drying dates under the sun and humidity.

He said that traditional process of drying dates used to take between 18 to 20 days and caused wastage of dates in huge quantity.

“The polycarbonate house has many benefits as it gives good quality, better colour and clearer dates and cuts drying times compared to the process of drying in the sun directly or under solar panels covered with plastics,” said Al Marri.

As per the experiment, the process of drying dates in polycarbonate house took three to five days depending on the types of the dates, reducing significantly the drying time, unlike the traditional way that usually took minimum 18 days. 

“In polycarbonate houses, Al Shisi dates dried fastest within three days followed by the variety of Al Lulu, Al Khazrawi and Nabtussaif dates that took four days, however, Al Khalas and Al Khanizi dates dried in five days,” said Al Marri.

He said that polycarbonate houses could be used to dry desert herbs and fodder such as fodder cactus and drying of palm trees for producing pollen powder.

Giving details about polycarbonate house Al Marri said polycarbonate house is a facility similar to a protected house covered with solid polycarbonate (2mm). 

“The facility has four rustproof iron racks. Each rack has two shelves equipped with wooden frame and base of a strong plastic net,” said Al Marri.

He said that the house is also equipped with a powerful automated exhaust fan to maintain the required temperature inside adding that the door of the facility is made of the green net with a transparent plastic curtain.

Qatar’s date production reached over 31,181 tonnes in a year, according to the figures posted by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment on its website on July 2016.

According to the report, the self-sufficiency rate of Qatar in date production is 88.4 percent. Qatar imported 4,396 tonnes dates and exported 181 tonnes in a year.

There are 1,340 farms of palm trees in Qatar, out of which 839 farms are active and most of them produce various varieties of dates.

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