Rajasthan is estimated to have produced nearly 800 tonnes of date palm from the first harvest in 2015-16 and the yields are expected to rise significantly in the coming years.
In 2007-08, the state government had started date palm cultivation on a trial basis in 135 hectares of its own farmland in Jaisalmer and Bikaner and had imported around 21,294 tissue culture raised saplings from the UAE.
Later in 2008-09, the state government started promoting date palm farming on farmers' land in 12 districts -- Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Sri Ganganagar, Nagaur, Pali, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Sirohi and Churu.
"Farmers have planted date palm crop in 813 hectares. Date palms take 4 to 8 years after planting before they bear fruit.
The first harvesting has started," Horticulture Director in Rajasthan government Vijay Pal Singh told PTI.
The harvesting of date palms started from June and would continue till August end for early varieties and till September for late varieties, he said.
"We are expecting nearly 800 tonnes from the first harvest. Yields will definitely improve as trees grow older. A date palm tree has a lifespan of 15 years and maximum fruits are expected from 10th year onwards," the official said.
Farmers are getting good rates for their produce and there is more interest to take up this farming among the farming community in the state, he said.
Singh further said the state government is targeting to bring about 150 hectare of farmers' land under the date palm cultivation in 2016-17.
The state government is promoting date palm farming in arid desert regions of north-western Rajasthan and giving tissue culture raised sapling to farmers at a subsidised rate under the centrally-sponsored scheme Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
The state government has tied up with a private company Atul Ltd for cultivating fine quality tissue cultured date palm saplings for distribution to farmers at a subsided rate.
Normally, a single sapling of date palm costs Rs 2,000- 2,500. The state is giving subsidy up to 75 per cent provided farmers use drip irrigation.
The state grows date palm varieties like Barhee, Khuneji, Khalas, Medjool, Khadravi, Jamli and Sagai.