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Colombia: Israeli experts study date palm plantation in La Guajira
Israeli experts are in the department of La Guajira to accompany the Ministry of Economic Development in the design and formulation of sustainable projects for indigenous communities, in addition to searching for water accessibility and quality, and palm plantations.
The group is made up of experts in water treatment, fish farming, poultry, crops and agronomists, who have traveled to the middle and upper Guajira searching for real long-term solutions in agricultural, poultry and fishery development.
"La Guajira is a territory similar to Israel, from its geography, its soils, up to its size. We want to implement initiatives that were successful there in this department, which is as arid as our country. We know about the water and food urgency, and that is why we propose the date palm, which grows in arid areas, does not need much water and produces a delicious, nutritious fruit that is commercialized enormously in our country", explained Assaf Wexler, an Israeli Water studies expert.
According to the deputy governor of La Guajira, Weildler Guerra Curvelo, several studies that have been carried out in this department have concluded that the climatic conditions for the cultivation of the date palm exist in this region. "The date palm has physiological characteristics which allow it to grow in desert soils with high atmospheric temperatures and intense solar radiation, a low relative humidity, infertile soils, and can be watered with brackish water", he said.
He added that many years ago the Italian Capuchin missionaries sowed the date palm in Guajira's territory, especially in Manaure where there are still several plants.
Guerra is convinced that with this date palm planting project could generate an improvement in Wayuu households' income. "The crop will be introduced in the traditional orchards in order for them to be complementary," he explained.
According to a National University research, dates palms are nutritionally a good sources of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and certain vitamins and minerals, but is low in fat and free of cholesterol and sodium.
He also states that they are rich in natural dietary fiber and antioxidants (to slow down the aging process), and consequently as a functional food due to its high content of phenolic acids.
In addition various parts of the plant can also be used for the production of handicrafts, wood, honey, sweet, flour, liqueurs, oil, jams and sweeteners.
The governor clarifies that the project is not only about date palms but also includes early harvest native crops and water sources, aquaculture and poultry farming.
Israeli experts toured the coastal areas near the Riohacha district, where they analyzed the immediate needs of the communities of Perico, Camarones, Las Delicias and Popoya (Mayapo), as well as going to the Alta Guajira.
In Colombia this date palm is grown in Boyacá and Antioquia. Worldwide, Asian and African countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, produce 98% of dates. The rest are in Spain, Mexico and the United States.
Publication date: 8/23/2017
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