Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (28 March 2023)
Ramadan has officially begun for billions of Muslims around the world last week, marking a period of reflection, prayer, and fasting. One of the most important aspects of this holy month is breaking the fast each evening after sunset, and for many, this begins with eating dates.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has reported that global date production reached 9.8 million tonnes in 2021, with Egypt being the largest producer at 1.7 million tonnes. Other major producers include Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Algeria, all of which produced more than 1 million tonnes of dates. Additionally, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and Oman also contributed to global production with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of dates.
While dates are an important part of Ramadan traditions, they also hold cultural significance beyond the holy month. In Oman, for example, dates are considered the heart of the country’s culture, with guests traditionally being offered dates and coffee upon arrival, and dates being served at weddings and funerals.
Beyond their symbolic importance, dates are also used as staple foods in several countries and offer numerous health benefits. They are rich in fiber, potassium, and antioxidants, and have been linked to improved digestion and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
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