The date palm orchards of Khairpur | Pakistan Today

The date palm orchards of Khairpur

Even though the winter season in Sindh this year has lasted more than it usually does, the scorching rays of sun could be felt at the date palm orchards of Khairpur Mirs.
For those interested in politics, Khairpur is the native district of Sindh chief minister Qaim Ali Shah. For historians, it was a state ruled by Talpur Mirs (ameers) of the Talpur dynasty and was included in Pakistan in 1955.
For heritage lovers, Khairpur has historical sites including the Faiz Mahal and Kot Diji Fort. Environmentalists think that the district has great importance due to the presence of the wildlife sanctuary of Mehrano, known for its black buck and hog deer, both of them now rare in Sindh.
Khairpur is also famous for its date palm orchards and the Aseel dates. Simple dates, dry dates, sweets made of dates and even date pickles; they are available in various varieties in the district.
According to the official records of the Pakistan Agricultural and Research Council, the total annual production of dates in Pakistan is about 0.54 million tonnes with the contribution of Sindh coming to 0.28 million tonnes, Balochistan 0.175 million tonnes, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.05 million tonnes and Punjab 0.039 million tones.
Around 85 percent of these dates are dried and turned into chuhara, the majority of which is exported to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The presence of these vast scattered date palm orchards in northern Sindh makes livelihood possible for hundreds of families.
According to the owners of orchards, if government makes special arrangements, they can expand these orchards that will not only provide livelihood for hundreds other labourers, but the country can fetch more foreign money through exports.
Date palm trees are spread over 98,000 hectares across Pakistan making it the fifth largest date producer in the world at 0.7million metric tonnes, with most orchards found in Balochistan. However, Sindh leads in production.
Markhand, an orchard owner, says the date palm tree is one of the most resilient plants and a rise in temperature or climate change will not be able to have any adverse affect on it for “another 200 years at least”.
“But dates grow best where the temperatures are hot so that ripening period is short. The date palm tree becomes fully fertile in nine years and bears fruit for over 80 years,” he adds.

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