Saiedi Date

Ark of taste
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Saiedi Date

The Saiedi date is a variety is of ancient Egyptian origin now considered one of Libya’s most important varieties. It is one of the most widespread variety in the Sokna, Hun, Waddan and Zellah areas of central Libya, as well as the towns of Jallo, Ogella, Jafara and Elkofra. This variety occupies 3% of the Al Jufrah Oasis. Saiedi trees produce a regular yield of 70 kg of dates per tree and grow quickly and are resistant to pests. They flower in March and are harvested in September and October at the rutab stage (characterized by darkening of the skin to amber, brown, or nearly black, a softer consistency and decreased astringency) or the tamar stage (when the fruit dries). Saiedi dates have a good market value due to their pleasant flavor and ease of storage and transport.   Dates have long had a role in the everyday life and economy of desert populations in Libya, providing a food source for both the nomadic peoples themselves and their animals. Dried dates provided energy needed to withstand harsh temperatures, and these goods could be traded for grains along the coast. Their importance is also reflected in the Arabic language having multiple different words for each of the different stages of fruit development: hababouk (unripe, green), khalal/kimri/blah (fresh, slightly astringent, juicy and fibrous, hard), rutab (medium moisture), tamar (overripe, dry). Dates are also mentioned in the Qu’ran, and locally, dates feature heavily in the evening meals during the month of Ramadan.   Currently the Al Jufrah date producers sell their organic dates fresh or pressed, or process the fruit into syrup, vinegar or sweets. However, in Maghreb countries like Libya, the renewal and conservation of traditional date varieties like Saiedi is no longer ensured. The resulting impoverishment in biodiversity has already lead to major cultivation of selected varieties and spread of monocultures for export. The varieties considered to be of lower commercial value are particularly suffering. As in other countries, drought, salinity, desertification and aging of the palm groves have created problems for date cultivation in general in Libya, but farmers know the importance of safeguarding Saiedi dates at the local level for their economic value.Photo: Marta Mancini  

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Territory

StateLibya
Region

Al Jufrah

Production area:Al Jufrah Oasis

Other info

Categories

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Berber
Nominated by:Dr . Bashir Gshera