Date palm-A gift for health and nutrition: national and international scenario
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.), family Arecaceae or Palmae, is cultivated mostly in the arid regions of the world. The crop has played a significant role in the economy of these countries, provides nutritional security, besides helping to mitigate the adverse effects of desertification and climate change over centuries. Date palm personifies human civilization in the arid countries. It is estimated that there are 150 million date palms worldwide, and 75% of these in the Near East and North Africa region. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the global production of dates has increased from just 1.8 million tons in 1962 to nearly 9.75 million tons in 2022. In India, commercial dates are cultivated mainly in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan which are emerging as major producers of fresh dates. Besides, local and wild dates are abound across the country. Dates are consumed fresh or in dry form and considered a complete food, providing food and nutrition security through a wide range of essential nutrients that have beneficial effects on human health. This article presents an overview of dates on nutrition and human health besides giving an insight on propagation, production, protection, processing, marketing, and associated challenges plaguing the sector.
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