By Ayman Adly/Staff Reporter
*More than 205 tons of dates sold during three-week event
*About 45,000 people visit the festival held at Souq Wakif
The Third Dates Festival, organised by the Agricultural Affairs Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) in collaboration with Souq Waqif, concluded on Saturday, following several weeks of busy activity.
The 17-day festival was part of Qatar's keen interest in supporting and encouraging the local production of food items, including dates, as part of efforts undertaken to achieve food security. The festival was also aimed at introducing to the public various types of quality dates produced locally, like the khanizi, khalas, hilali, barhi and arziz varieties.
It was also aimed at supporting the owners of date farms and giving them the necessary assistance in order to encourage them to adopt scientific methods.
Among the most important indicators of the success of the annual Date Festival was the increase in the number of participating farms, which this year came to 73 , prompting the organising committee to increase the exhibition space to accommodate the increase in the number of participants. The number of visitors including citizens, residents and tourists reached about 45,000. In addition, several heads of diplomatic missions and ambassadors to the country visited the event.
More than 205 tons of dates were sold, marking another major achievement for the festival. Khalas was the most sought after variety which sold about 118 tons, followed by 'khanizi' which sold about 32 tons.
At the closing ceremony, the festival organisers also announced the first three winners of the palm trees home garden competition. The winners were selected through a public draw. While the first winner got a prize of QR15,000, the second and third winners received QR10,000 and QR8,000, respectively.
Mohamed Salem, Director of Souq Waqif, said a special committee from the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) visited the applicants' gardens and inspected all the entries, selecting the 10 best from among them. Then a draw was held to select the three winners.
He said that this edition of the festival was very successful in all aspects and such festivals contributed greatly to increase the number of visitors to Souq Waqif.
Sheikh Dr Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani, MME Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture and Fisheries Affairs, stressed that the festival was highly successful, particularly regarding the number of participating farms, the quality of the products , the big number of visitors and the considerable quantity of dates sold on a daily basis. The next edition of the festival will see more developments through the launch of various initiatives aimed at enhancing the role of the private sector in agricultural production, in addition to the various innovative ideas in the field.
He said that MME would soon announce a number of new projects to encourage the private sector to increase agricultural production, especially local vegetables. During October, MME is set to open three new yards at Muaither, Al Shehaniyah, and Al Ruwais for selling local agricultural products.
Various awareness and educational activities were held on the sidelines of the festival to enhance public awareness about related issues and instruct farmers on the best ways to grow healthy palm trees.The festival was opened on July 19.
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