Govt to dabble with Dates


A recent news item (not in "The Island") under the above caption, stated that "the government is studying whether it is economically feasible to go for date cultivation in Sri Lanka after the successful growth of several such date palms in Kattankudy town...." I am astonished at this reported disclosure to Parliament. It is suggested that MP Mr Hsbullah was involved in this planting and that a Muslim cleric recently ceremonially reaped the first harvest!

The date palm grows in regions subject to scorching temperatures during the day and chilling ones at night. It has to have ample water, flowers only once per year, requires about 6-8 climbs to a very inaccessible crown (forbidding thorns as well) every season, takes 25-30 years to come into bearing and is hugely variable if raised from seed. Import of plants is illegal.

It is not disclosed as to who is "studying" the prospect. The chances  of commercially breeding Polar Bears or Penguins is only marginally more hopeless. I wish the Government would turn its attention to "dabbling" in issues that are much more urgent and practical.

Dr U. Pethiyagoda

Former FAO Expert in Date Palm Breeding,

International Project, Baghdad, Iraq  (1981 - 1984)

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