Secrets From The Sahara. Dates : Episode 1 General review
One of my loyal readers told me after reading my last article that she wants to know more about my city Kébili, she wants me to introduce the special features of that small city, how we live, what we wear, what is there except the desert, what are we known with, she wants to know more about our history, our culture, our traditions…etc. While reading the message she sent me, i noticed that there were people cutting a Date-palm from its roots on the walkway, they were the municipal workers, they said that it represents a danger for the people. The crowd were staring at them with sad faces, one of the crowd stepped forward and yelled : ‘it will not represent a danger even after a thousand years, these trees are a part of us, they represent us, they symbolize us’, then he turned over and left muttering. The man is right, Dates is what makes us special, it’s what we are known with worldwide, these trees hold our history in their leaves.
As i mentioned before, Kébili is one of the most hottest places in the world, the hot climate is a necessary condition for the dates to grow ripe and reach a high quality, the most known type of dates is what we call here ‘Deglet Nour’ that is loved and known all over the world, unfortunately Kébili has neither dates factories for exportation nor dates markets, so dates products are transferred to another city, put into boxes and exported abroad on the name of that other city, Kébili is not mentioned at any how. The Date-palm can reach a hight of 15 till 25 metres, and several palms can grow out of one root system. The pollination of the flowers happens normally through wind, in modern commercial plantations it is done manually. Date-palm starts producing when it is 1 metre height, a full grown one may produces from 1 to 10 large bunches a year and sometimes more, to protect the dates against the rain they are covered by a plastic sleeve, the harvest is usually from october until the beginning of november and sometimes it lasts until december. Kébili holds about 60% of the total production of dates in Tunisia, then comes Tozeur in a second place. In the oasis of Kébili, there exist about a 100 type of dates and may be more, many of these types has disappeared because the of the concentration of ‘Deglet-Nour’ in term of production and marketing, i can mention from these types ‘Al-Ftimi’ (الفطيمي), ‘Al-Hissa’ (الهيسة), ‘Al-Kosbi’ (القصبي), ‘Al-Kenta’ (الكنته), ‘Al-Ammari’ (العماري), ‘Al-Bajjo’ (الباجو), ‘Al-Gonda’ (القنده)…etc.
Date palm is probably the most ancient cultivated tree in the world, i have read that the date palm was cultivated as early as 4000 B.C. since it was used for the construction of the temple of the moon god in Southern Iraq, i have also read that the reason for mentioning dates and date palms in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions was due mainly to the influence of the Prophet Abraham, who was born and raised where date palms were grown. Ibrahim’s love of the date and date palm left a lasting influence on these religions, the Jews consider the date as one of the seven holy fruits and they celebrate Palm Sunday, but no other religion has stressed the holiness of the date and date palm as much as the Islamic religion.
Date has alot of benefits on health, as it is rich with many nutritional contents such as fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin B6…etc, dates help boosting the health of the heart, it reduces the blood pressure, it reduces the stoke risk, it helps boosting the brain health, and many other health advantages. Coinciding with the physical benefits, dates have a spiritual benefits that cannot be scientifically studied up to now but they are mentioned in terms of religion. Date also function as a primary material for the production of other products. Not only the date fruit, also the date-palm, the tree is used for other productions such as the production of crafts using especially the leaves, carpentry using the stem…etc, nothing is wasted, all can be used.