Rajasthan government aspires to double farmers income by 2022 through new initiatives like organic farming and cultivation of horticulture crops like Olives, Citrus fruits and Date Palm. With agriculture in the state being primarily rain-fed, especially in the arid Western and Northern regions, the Rajasthan government has been encouraging farmers to cultivate exotic plant species like olive, jojoba, dragon fruit and date palms that need comparatively less water and have potential to make cultivation profitable.
In 2007-08, the state government had started date palm cultivation on a trial basis in 135 hectares of its own farmland in Jaisalmer and Bikaner and had imported around 21,000 tissue culture raised saplings from the UAE. Later in 2008-09, Rajasthan government started promoting date palm farming on farmers’ land in 12 districts — Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Sri Ganganagar, Nagaur, Pali, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Sirohi and Churu. Farmers have planted date palm crop in 813 hectares.
Date palms take 4 to 8 years after planting before they bear fruit. Yields improve as trees grow older and the tree has a lifespan of 15 years with maximum fruits from 10th year onwards.
The first harvests for date palms have started in Rajasthan and the state is expecting an output of around 800 Tonnes. The state grows date palm varieties like Barhee, Khuneji, Khalas, Medjool, Khadravi, Jamli and Sagai.
Rajasthan Government Support for Date Palm Cultivation:
- The state government is promoting date palm farming in arid desert regions of north-western Rajasthan and giving tissue culture raised sapling to farmers at a subsidised rate under the centrally-sponsored scheme Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
- The state government has also tied up with a private company Atul Ltd for cultivating fine quality tissue cultured date palm saplings for distribution to farmers at a subsided rate.
- A single sapling of date palm costs Rs 2,000- 2,500 but Rajasthan Government is giving subsidy up to 75 per cent provided farmers use drip irrigation.
- The agriculture sector working on Indo-Israeli collaboration, started the date research at Sagra-Bhojka farm and after its success, efforts are being made to start a centre of excellence to develop date using Israeli techniques.