MUSCAT: The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) in association with the Public Authority for SME Development (PASMED) is planning several measures to make Omani dates available for domestic consumers, too.

Currently, a major share of high-quality dates cultivated in the sultanate is exported leaving lesser quantities in local markets.

Eng Hussain Ali al Lawati, director general of marketing and information in MoAF, said that the ministry in a survey found that local markets are not getting enough supplies of Omani dates as most of them are exported.

Eng Lawati was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the dates festival to be held in Nizwa from October 14 to 19.

“A survey conducted by the ministry found that a majority of the best quality Omani dates are exported. This is good in terms of business, but at the same time it means that the people of Oman are not getting dates grown in their own country,” he said. “More than 100 varieties of Omani dates will be showcased at the festival.”

He said that the festival is one of the steps initiated by the ministry to encourage more small and medium enterprises to pay attention to cultivation, preservation and marketing of dates.

“The festival will not only offer consumers a range of dates to choose from but will also help them know the industry better. There will also be a workshop which will help farmers to know more about packaging and food safety practices,” added Eng Lawati.