Saudi to give dates to poor
Saudi King Fahd has bought 21,000 tons of dates from local farmers at a cost of $20 million to be distributed among the "poor" in various countries, Arab News said Monday, July 16.
Agriculture Minister Abdullah Muammar said the kingdom "will distribute the dates among the poor in many countries directly and through the UN’s World Food Program," the paper said.
The oil-rich kingdom produces around 650,000 tons of dates a year from 18 million date palms covering 107,000 hectares (264,000 acres) of land, the fourth largest area under palms in the world.
Saudi domestic consumption accounts for just under half of production, leaving a large surplus to be sold cheaply or used as animal fodder, as only five percent of the dates produced find its way to international markets.
Date producers receive annual subsidies from the government, which also purchases a percentage of production. This policy has boosted output by more than 50 percent in the past 15 years.
Producers maintain that further incentives are needed to help increase Saudi exports from the current 32,000 tons a year. ― (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)