The UAE Government, in the framework of its development plans, has placed the establishment of a date production industry one of its priorities. The Date Palm Tissue Culture Lab. is one of several agricultural projects managed by the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).
Under the leadership of His Highness, The President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, there are continual efforts to increase agricultural productivity, to make better use of available resources, and to produce an agricultural leap that is changing the face of the UAE’s desert.
Indeed, His Highness, The President, attaches a great importance to agricultural development in general, and to date palm in particular. This special attention is clearly evident in the continued expansion in agricultural resources and investments, in the fast growth in the number of palm trees, in the continued increase in the size and variety of date projects, in the extensive use of modern technologies, and in the important initiatives undertaken in the areas of manufacturing and marketing of date fruits.
UAE have a total land area of 83,600 km. The country is divided into two ecological zones which greatly influence the agricultural production: These are the coastal region with hot and humid summers and warm winters, and the inland region which is dryer. The potentialities of a commercial date production industry in UAE were realised many years ago.
The actual date tree population in UAE is about 40 millions of which 8.5 in AL-AIN region. The gene pool is large and composes about 120 date varieties. New introductions from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Oman included Khallas, AbouMaan, Hallawi, Khissab, Khenezi, Nabut Saif, Jabiri, Hillali, Lulu, Chichi, Khadraoui, Sakii, Sultana and Barhi varieties.
The DPTCL, founded in February 1989, belongs to the United Arab Emirates University and took several years to reach its technical establishment. The DPTCL is internationally recognized as one of the major commercial Date Palm Mass Propagation Unit.
The application of tissue culture techniques for date palm, also called in vitro propagation, has many advantages in comparison to the two traditional techniques (seed and offshoots propagation) and enables the following:
• Propagation of healthy selected female cultivars (disease and pest-free), Bayoud resistant cultivars, or males having superior pollen with useful metaxenia characteristics which can easily and rapidly be propagated;
• Large scale multiplication;
• No seasonal effect on plants because they can be multiplied under controlled conditions in the laboratory throughout the year;
• Production of genetically uniform plants;
• Clones to be propagated from elite cultivars already in existence, or from the F1 hybrids of previous selections, and seed-only originated palms;
• Ensure an easy and fast exchange of plant material between different regions of a country or between countries without any risk of the spread of diseases and pests; and
• Economically reliable when large production is required.
Date plants of several varieties produced using in vitro techniques and sold by Date Palm Development Research Unit Department have the following specifications:
• True-to-type to the mother date palm variety;
• Diseases and pests-free;
• A growth faster than normal offshoots;
• With a strong root system;
• Field survival close to 100%;
• Fruiting after four year from planting, by giving necessary care