A Modern Date-Sorting System in the Negev
The Ramat Negev area is characterized by winters whose temperatures can reach lows of 0-3 degrees Celsius. The date known to us grows in warmer desert areas. The attempt to grow dates in the Ramat Negev area is not only bold, but also unconventional. Early tests performed at the Ramat Hanegev R&D by Dr. Amnon Bustan have demonstrated the possibility of producing a succulent date, which to date has been grown mainly in the Jordan Valley.
Three years ago, an ICA grant for Ramat HaNegev R&D was approved for the establishment of a date-sorting system. With our support, the process of building a fermentation chamber began and later automatic equipment was developed for determining fruit sugar concentration (BRIX). The development of the machine in Israel and its production took almost a year.
Yesterday I visited the R&D and was happy to see the system working successfully.
It should be noted that at the beginning (3-4 years ago) the price per kg of Super-Juicy Dates was 40 NIS/Kg, while today the price ranges between 25-28 NIS/kg. This reduces the attractiveness of planting date orchards. Nevertheless, two plots have already been planted in the Ramat Negev region and Kibbutz Retamim is also considering the establishment of a large plot.
Aggressive marketing efforts will be needed to promote additional markets. Dates can be shipped to Eastern Asia in cooling chambers. Recently, the Japanese market found the juicy fruit too sweet and, as a result, date export was reduced. America will probably get the juicy date fruit from either California or Morocco, both big players in this market.
A potentially new market is that of the Persian Gulf states of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, as well as Sudan, with whom a diplomatic agreement was recently reached. In these countries the Maghoul strain is neither known nor grown, with the Barhi variety quite common, so these countries may be interested in cooperating with us.
Attached are some pictures of the researcher and his sorting machine.