Date palms are some of the finest exotic palms grown in India. The palms are well known for their beauty and rarity. If palm cultivation is properly managed and protected, it has enormous potential. Yes, date palm cultivation in India still is in early developmental phase.
Yes, date palm cultivation is also one of the highest potential commercial agricultural in India. Like other high yielding tropical crops, such as coconuts and tomatoes, Indian date cultivation also has tremendous scope. Unlike coconuts and tomatoes, however, India is a fairly new country in terms of date palm cultivation. Low yield and small area occupied make it less competitive as compared to its neighbors. However, with proper management and effective irrigation, date palms yield more than six quintillion dollars annually, making it a large crop worldwide.
Besides, the prospective of date palm cultivation in India lies in its potential use as an eco-friendly product. Drought tolerant (not needing to be fed with conventional irrigation), fast growing (under fifteen years) and pest free (due to intercropping) makes it ideal for local and village economic development. On the one hand, intercropping occurs when various species of palms are planted on the same soil. For example, tall date palms are intercropped with Broad Beans, Eucalyptus with Lantana palms, Pterygosperma with Pennyroyal, Ashwagandha with Nilgiri palms etc. The intercropping of these trees promotes the evolution of diseases resistant to local plantings.
On the other hand, there are two distinct species of palms growing in India Satkuzi (Satezea arundinacea) and Sidra (Euterpe oleracea). The former is indigenous to Southern India whereas the latter is widespread in Northern India and Pakistan. Satkuzi palms are known for their fruits and seeds that yield a black-purplish fruit and have a very pleasant aroma. These fruits are very easy to dry while the seeds require a process called ‘Ksheer’ in which they are sowed in water and allowed to sprout, thus completing the dehydration process. This makes them suitable for an individual who wants to consume them right away. The other important difference between Satkuzi and Sidra palms is their size Satkuzi palms grow up to 15 m tall while Sidra palms grow only a few inches high.
In addition, the success rate of intercropping has been increasing in India since the late 1980s. This is because of the two major factors identified to be beneficial for intercropping the availability of land and adequate financial resources. First of all, the availability of enough land ensures that there is ample space for the growth of date palms. Secondly, financial resources such as investment in infrastructure and tools make land cultivation more efficient and viable. While land can’t be owned outright, intercropping can take place on lands that belong to already established date tree plantation families. Through this practice, existing families benefit from the yields that result from date palm cultivation, as well as the intercropping process itself.
In India date palm cultivation has achieved near-perfect proportions. It has also made tremendous contributions to the overall health and development of India’s agriculture. India has one of the largest areas of forest cover in the world the sheer vastness of the country makes it a haven for species of all kinds. In addition, the environment is conducive for tree growth due to the seasonal climate. These factors combine to provide the ideal conditions for India date farmers to cultivate the date trees that form the basis of India’s agricultural production.
Indian Farmers have managed to increase their yields through the use of modern technology and innovation. This has been coupled with widespread use of machinery, improved irrigation and better access to markets. With these practices Indian date palm farming profit margins have risen dramatically. The advent of large-scale mechanization has made it possible to increase the yields even more.
While date palms do require a great deal of hard work and care, the fruits produced are highly perishable. Farmers must also be vigilant not to over-harvest the palms which can affect the quality of the yield. Harvesting should be done on the correct time, ensuring that as much as possible is harvested. Palm cultivation will continue to grow and flourish in India, becoming an integral part of the Indian economy. The best years are yet to come for this fast-paced industry.