Hajjar: New Project To Be Designed For Enhanced Dates Sector Production Chain Competitiveness And Hence Increased Exports And Jobs
By Ron Chen, Correspondent ASEAN Region
Under the patronage of HRH Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Governor of the Madinah Province, the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDBG), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), will organize, in the period 6-8/6/1442 (19-21/1/2021), the “International Virtual Exhibition for Madinah Dates” under the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS), which is supervised by ITFC.
The virtual exhibition aims to promote trade and investment in the Madinah dates sector as a contribution to the enhancement and advancement of local product, increase the province’s GDP by developing exports and establish trade relations with the external markets in the dates sector. The exhibition will include booths for exhibitors, date export companies and government agencies. Additionally, workshops and panel discussions will be held as well as matchmaking meetings between exhibitors and potential buyers from targeted international date markets as identified by the exhibition organisers.
MCCI Chairman, Munir Mohammed Nasser bin Saad noted that organising this exhibition is an outcome of a cooperation MOU between IsDBG and MCCI towards enhancing the commercial and economic environment in Madinah, building on the province’s dates sector development project, as well as actively participating in realising the objectives of the Saudi 2030 Vision.
Mr. Saad added that implementing the MOU on the project started in 2018 under the supervision of ITFC, in the framework of the AfTIAS programme, in cooperation with ITC (the UN agency for private sector development), with a number of workshops that were held in Madinah. The project aims to increase internal and external demand for the province’s dates and enhance its competitiveness, with a view to reaching global markets and providing a large portion of the Madinah population of farmers and private sector institutions with more stable income. The project will also generate better returns for farmers and increase jobs, in addition to contributing to the enhancement of the national and religious character of Madinah dates, which rank third in the Kingdom in terms of the number of producing palm trees with 4.75 million trees, i.e. 15.2 per cent. The produce represents 14 per cent, and there are 900,000 Ajwah palm trees.
On his part, IsDBG Chairman, H.E. Dr. Bandar bin Muhammad Hamzah Hajjar, emphasized in the opening session of the exhibition the particular attention given by IsDBG to developing the agricultural sector in its 57 member countries, as the sector contributes to achieving food security, increasing national income, and attracting large numbers of workers. It was in that context that the Madinah dates sector development project was designed. As a follow up to the results achieved, IsDB signed on 4/3/2019 a second agreement with the Madinah Province to establish a comprehensive centre for dates in Madinah so as to improve the types of dates produced, support the sector’s competitiveness and process fresh dates into other products by promoting relevant manufacturing.
On the occasion, Dr. Hajjar announced that IsDBG plans to design a new project in the near future, under the second phase of AfTIAS, to enhance the competitiveness of the dates sector production chains, and hence increase its exports and jobs, particularly for the youth. This in turn will contribute to realising the objectives of the Saudi 2030 Vision.
ITFC CEO, Engineer Hani Salem Sonbol, recalled in this context the efforts exerted by ITFC, on behalf of IsDBG since 2016, harnessing its experience and expertise to support activities that contribute to developing the Madinah dates sector under the MOU signed between ITFC and MCCI on 16/6/2017 towards enhancing the sector’s exports.
In this regard, he noted the outstanding work carried out under this project during the year 2020 to classify Madinah dates to highlight their excellence compared to other dates in the Kingdom, and to also highlight the comparative advantages of Madinah dates in terms of nutrition, trade and spirituality. He also stressed ITFC’s willingness to continue to provide the Madinah dates sector with technical support over the coming years.
So far, the event has received 100 international registrations, with 30 exhibition stands from companies, dates factories, agricultural associations and more than (13) pavilions for partners, sponsors, and supporters. The 3-day event will see the conclusion of agreements and sales deals, and the provision of logistical services (shipping, transportation, etc.), in addition to (9) workshops and accompanying meetings.