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Amid climate change threat, Saudi Arabia moves to beef up date palm genetic bank 

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Sat, 2021-10-02 02:28

RIYADH: To further protect and save plant genetic diversity, Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Palms and Dates registered more than 127 types of local and international date seeds, making it the most significant date palm genetic bank in the world.

The center in Al-Ahsa plans to increase the number of date varieties and raise the number of dates registered to 200 by 2027, the center’s director, Khalid Al-Husseini, told Arab News.

Saudi Arabia has approximately 30 million palm trees that produce nearly 1.5 million tons of dates.

Al-Husseini said most of the dates registered at the center are “compatible with nature,” because the soil is suitable for most types of dates. He said other varieties come from the US, Tunisia, Algeria, and Iraq.

Al-Husseini also said the center aims to preserve national and global seeds, especially rare and endangered ones. The center conducts physiological and morphological studies on these types of seeds to determine how adaptable they are to local climatic conditions. Laboratories are also provided with the required palm varieties.

Climate change is an important issue that affects crops globally, as more and more are going extinct. Seed banks provide adequate conditions to ensure seed longevity.

Al-Husseini said the center is also working to create a database for date palms in an attempt to preserve them from extinction. The genetic seed bank was founded in 1999 as more than 100 research projects have been conducted so far.

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