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Date palm is the axis of Algerian Saharan oasis agriculture creating a microclimate suitable for the cultivation of fruit trees, cereal crops, and vegetables. Date palm cultivation is subject to abiotic and biotic constraints including diseases like bayoud which destroyed millions of palm trees in southwestern Algeria and continues to expand despite prophylactic measures taken by the Plant Protection Services. Traditional and modern techniques are utilized equally in the operations of small and large farms. Various problems related to agricultural practices keep the yield per tree low in comparison to the surrounding regions. Approximately 18 million date palms are cultivated on an area of 169,380 ha; out of these, ten million trees are producing an annual yield of 500,000 mt of dates. Exports of Algerian dates are small because of weak marketing strategies. A program for the development and expansion of date palm agriculture was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) in the recent years. Moreover, research on propagation, improvement, and evaluation of Algerian date palm cultivars is receiving attention by researchers in various universities and research institutes. This study describes the research development and the knowledge gained
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125© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015
J.M. Al-Khayri et al. (eds.), Date Palm Genetic Resources and Utilization:
Volume 1: Africa and the Americas, DOI 10.1007/978-94-017-9694-1_4
Chapter 4
Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
Nadia Bouguedoura , Malika Bennaceur , Souad Babahani ,
and Salah Eddine Benziouche
Abstract Date palm is the axis of Algerian Saharan oasis agriculture creating a
microclimate suitable for the cultivation of fruit trees, cereal crops, and vegetables.
Date palm cultivation is subject to abiotic and biotic constraints including diseases
like bayoud which destroyed millions of palm trees in southwestern Algeria and
continues to expand despite prophylactic measures taken by the Plant Protection
Services. Traditional and modern techniques are utilized equally in the operations
of small and large farms. Various problems related to agricultural practices keep the
yield per tree low in comparison to the surrounding regions. Approximately 18 mil-
lion date palms are cultivated on an area of 169,380 ha; out of these, ten million
trees are producing an annual yield of 500,000 mt of dates. Exports of Algerian
dates are small because of weak marketing strategies. A program for the develop-
ment and expansion of date palm agriculture was implemented by the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR ) in the recent years. Moreover,
research on propagation, improvement, and evaluation of Algerian date palm
cultivars is receiving attention by researchers in various universities and research
N. Bouguedoura (*)
Faculty of Biological Sciences, Laboratory of Research in Arid Areas ,
University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene ,
El Alia Bab-Ezzouar , 32 , Algiers 16111 , Algeria
M. Bennaceur
Department of Biology, Faculty of Nature Sciences and Life ,
University of Oran , El M’Naouer , 524 , Oran 31000 , Algeria
Faculty of Biological Sciences , Laboratory of Research in Arid Areas,
University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene ,
El Alia Bab-Ezzouar , 32 , Algiers 16111 , Algeria
S. Babahani
Laboratory of Saharan Bio-Resources , Kasdi Merbah University ,
511 , Ouargla 30000 , Algeria
S. E. Benziouche
Agronomy Department, Faculty of Exact Sciences and Natural and Life Sciences , Mohamed
Khider University , 145, RP , Biskra 07000 , Algeria
institutes. This study describes the research development and the knowledge gained
during the last four decades in Algeria to enhance the date palm cultivation which
constitutes the pillar of the agroecosystems of Algerian Saharan oases.
Keywords Axis of Saharan agriculture Bayoud Biotechnology Constraints
Deglet Noor Phoenix dactylifera
4.1 Introduction
Date palm ( Phoenix dactylifera L.) is the main crop of both traditional and modern
Algerian Saharan agriculture. The economy of the southern provinces ( wilayates ) is
based primarily on date palm cultivation and utilization of its fruit by-products such
as paste, fl our, syrup, vinegar, alcohol, yeast, and confectionery. This provides a
major source of income for oasis inhabitants. All parts of the date palm are used,
including the leaves and trunks which are used for basketry and house construction.
The fruit is consumed in fresh and dry forms, processed to produce syrup (Mimouni
and Siboukeur 2011 ), or fermented to produce wine and vinegar (Ould El Hadj et al.
2012 ). Leafl ets and seeds are used in animal feeding.
Following an increase in living standards, local people have diversifi ed their diet
(Brac de la Perrière and Dubost 1987 ), and consequently, dates have lost their posi-
tion as a main food as compared to the previous years. Nonetheless, it is still a
highly appreciated fruit in some countries for cultural reasons as well as in the
Western industrialized countries where the date is considered a health food. Algeria
has the world’s best plantations of dates cultivar Deglet Noor, which are in high
demand in global markets, and the country aims to increase its production to satisfy
local consumption and to expand exports.
This chapter is a summary of research advances made in relation to date palm
propagation, utilization, and conservation, conducted in Algeria since the 1970s,
following the escalating problem of the deadly bayoud disease of date palm. It also
describes cultivation and management of the crop and its socioeconomic impor-
tance to Saharan agriculture.
4.1.1 Historical and Current Agricultural Aspects
According to Bouguedoura et al. ( 2010 ), in the early twentieth century, date palm was
cultivated as a subsistence crop but diversifi ed and based on the local economy and water
control through a system of foggaras (underground conduits), groundwater, stream
water, and other sources. At that time, 4.5 million date palms were being exploited.
During the colonial period, the number of palms increased to 6.7 million, cultivation
techniques improved, and the understory cultures in particular fruit trees were introduced.
The Deglet Noor cultivar became the most desired dessert fruit and the fruit of export.
Reorganization of date palm cultivation began after the country’s independence
with actions undertaken, supported by FAO, leading to the creation of research
N. Bouguedoura et al.
stations in southern Algeria. It was also the period of rural exodus which led to the
loss of knowledge and know-how. Farmers currently prefer more profi table crops
such as cereals and vegetables. Therefore, traditional date palm plantations have
declined, and maintenance of the foggaras is neglected.
During the 1980s, new areas of Saharan agriculture were created, especially in
Adrar, El Oued, Biskra, Ouargla, and Ghardaïa. In the same period, in those regions,
an electric power network was developing, and new water resources were mobi-
lized. The number of date palms rose from 8 to 9 million in 1990 by the creation of
large areas in Biskra, El Oued, El Guerrara, El Meniaa, Adrar, and In Salah. Since
2000, Algerian date palm groves have witnessed a further expansion that reached
13.5 million trees occupying 120,830 ha in 2002 and at present 18 million trees on
169,380 ha.
Currently, oasis date palm cultivation occupies the regions situated south of the
Saharan Atlas Mountains. It begins at the Moroccan border, in the west, and ends at
the east Tunisian-Libyan border. From north to south in Algeria, it extends from the
southern Saharan Atlas Mountain foothills at Reggane in the west, Tamanrasset in
the center, and Djanet in the east (Fig.
4.1 ).
4.1.2 Importance to Country Agriculture
Date palm is grown in numerous oases spread over the southern part of the country,
where the climate is hot and dry. The oases are living spaces which have been arti-
cially established in the midst of a large arid area where water is present. In these
locations, a ksar (a village made out of clay) was built and date palms were planted
around it. These oases systems of complex intensive production are maintained with
a very fragile balance. Given the geography of Algeria, it is possible to describe
several regions of date palm cultivation (Fig. 4.1 ):
(a) In the Atlas Mountains foothills (Ksour Ouled Naïl, Zibans, and Aures), there
is an oasis chain that marks the gateway of the Sahara.
(b) In the east, Zibans (Biskra), Oued Ghir, Oued Souf (El Oued), and the basin
of Ouargla especially with the Deglet Noor cultivar of high commercial
(c) In the west, Saoura (Beni Abbes), the Touat (Adrar), the Gourara (Timimoun),
and the Tidikelt (Reggane) where palm groves include cultivars of relatively
low commercial quality. It is in this area where the only truly bayoud-resistant
cultivar, Taqerbucht, exists.
(d) At the center. El Golea, the M’zab (Ghardaïa), and Laghouat.
There are different types of oases depending on the nature and operation of water
resources, the type of the soil, and topography. Four types have been distinguished
(Zella and Smadhi 2006 ):
(a) Oases in erg (dune eld) depressions, where irrigation water is sourced from
groundwater by wells and drilling (Ouargla oasis)
(b) Oases in Ghouts where irrigation water is drawn up by capillary action (Souf
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
(c) River oases, supplied with water from rivers (Oued of Ghoufi , Oued M’zab,
Oued Saoura).
(d) Oases of depressions, supplied with water by foggaras (Touat, Gourara, and
4.1.3 Production Statistics and Economics
Date production in Algeria varies annually which correlated with the alternate bear-
ing of the date palm, cultural practices, climatic hazards, and region of cultivation.
This production has surged from 205,907 mt in 1990 to 755,000 mt in 2011, an
increase of 266 %. The average production during the period of analysis is esti-
mated at 420,290 mt (Fig.
4.2 ).
Fig. 4.1 Map of Algeria indicating the different areas with date palms; those in red are bayoud
infested, those in green not infested (Source: N. Bouguedoura Research Laboratory of Arid Areas
N. Bouguedoura et al.
Over 92 % of the increase in date production is due to new plantations estab-
lished within the framework of the Accession to the Agricultural Land Ownership
(APFA) and the National Program of Agriculture Development (PNDA) (Benziouche
2010 ), as well as to the strong recent interest given to this crop.
Statistics show that date production in Algeria is mainly concentrated in the
southeastern part of the country, which is responsible of 76 % of national produc-
tion. The province of Biskra ranks fi rst with nearly 31 % followed by El Oued
(27 %) and Ouargla with 18 %. The edaphic and pedoclimatic specifi cities, as well
as the crop management and the market value of cultivars, justify the importance of
the production in these regions. In date groves elsewhere, production is less impor-
tant, contributing 24 % of total national date production allocated as follows: south-
west (15 %) and south center (9 %).
4.1.4 Current Agricultural Problems
Date palm is the keystone species of the Algerian oasis ecosystem which is affected
by multiple factors: genetic erosion from bayoud disease caused by a soil fungus,
Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. albedinis (Foa), and dominance of the cultivar Deglet
Noor to increase exports. Besides, the human population of the Algerian Saharan
region has quadrupled during the past 30 years which has created demographic
pressures. Consequently, urbanization increases at the expense of date palm groves.
The progression of desertifi cation and sand dune encroachment threatening oases
are becoming increasingly important. Salinization of soil and water, due to poor
drainage management, causes reduction in the number of palms and fruit yield.
Finally, the aging of many date palms as well as diseases causing degeneration of
date palms have led to adverse changes in fruit quality and a signifi cant drop in
yield. For many years, farmers have been abandoning dates in favor of more profi t-
able crops such as vegetables.
Total date production (ton)
Fig. 4.2 Date production in Algeria 1990–2011 (Source: Benziouche ( 2012 ) )
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
4.2 Cultivation Practices
Date palm is a species demanding considerable maintenance and specialized culti-
vation practices. Algerian date palm farmers often are engaged in other farm activi-
ties and do not pay adequate attention to those aspects that affect the date crop
quantity and quality. Nevertheless, many efforts are being made within the context
of expansion of date palm areas through various development projects. Unfortunately,
these efforts and their recommendations have not been followed to improve cultiva-
tion practices. The rarity of applied research on date palm cultivation practices
impedes advances in farmers’ knowledge in this area.
4.2.1 Research and Development
Research on date palm gained signifi cance beginning in the 1970s related to bayoud
disease control issues, supported by FAO for the three Maghreb countries of Algeria,
Morocco, and Tunisia. As a result, research about resistant cultivars and biotechno-
logical approaches prevailed.
However, this approach required basic studies to better understand date palm
biology (Bouguedoura 1979 , 1980 , 1982 , 1991 , 2012 ), identifi cation of the
Fusarium responsible for bayoud disease, host-parasite relationships (Bounaga
1985 ), and morphological characterization of cultivars which led to them to be
inventoried (Belguedj 2002 ; Hannachi et al. 1998 ) and the formulation of standard
date palm descriptors (IPGRI et al. 2005 ).
The few cultivars supposedly resistant to bayoud were found to bear fruit of low
commercial quality, but they are important in the context of their utilization in the
ght against the disease. For this reason, their multiplication by biotechnological
processes continues, mainly through the use of somatic embryogenesis.
Another research approach developed is the formation of cultivars combining the
resistance and quality of dates, either by mutagenesis or protoplast fusion (Chabane
et al.
2007 , 2010 ). In fact, this task is daunting using classic guided crossing because the
date palm is dioecious and heterozygous. This technology approach was attempted in
1984 by the United Nations Development Program and FAO (PNUD/FAO/RAB/84/018;
PNUD/FAO/RAB/88/024) with the aim of obtaining new clones resistant to bayoud
and producing good-quality fruit. For this purpose, 19 American male date palms were
selected by this regional project, while females have been chosen from among the best
cultivars of North Africa: Deglet Noor, Medjool, Taqerbucht, and Feggous.
The rst plants obtained by mutagenesis, developed by the National Institute of
Agronomic Research of Algeria (INRAA) team, were putatively resistant based on
in vitro selection of calli, cultivated on a medium containing fungal culture extract;
plants are currently being tested in infected fi elds in Ghardaïa (RAF/5/049 and
ALG/5/023 Projects).
The rst plantlets obtained by protoplast fusion from the resistant cultivar
Taqerbucht and the susceptible cultivar Deglet Noor showed a double level of ploidy
N. Bouguedoura et al.
compared to the original plants (Chabane 2007 ). The fusion phase and characteriza-
tion of somatic hybrids remain to be explored. Characterization of cultivars by bio-
chemical or molecular approaches remains a fundamental goal.
4.2.2 Description of Current Cultivation Practices
The rehabilitation of date gardens is done by planting offshoots ( hachan or djeb-
bars ) which are separated and weaned with great care by taking multiple steps. It is
necessary to carefully clear the base of the offshoot in order to identify the point of
attachment with the mother palm, which is cut and detached with a chisel. After
cleaning to remove the injured roots and cornafs (petioles), the offshoot is usually
planted in spring or fall. The planting hole of 1.3 m is fi lled up to 30–40 cm of its
depth with a mixture of manure (3–5 kg per tree) and loose soil. Offshoots should
be planted angled towards the north and surrounded by 3 or 4 date leaves to protect
them from the frequent heat and winds.
On traditional farms, regular plant spacing is not followed, but on new plantations
being developed, spacing is 8–12 m, depending on the adopted culture system. The
most common spacing used is 9 × 9 m (Benziouche and Chehat 2010 ; Bouammar 2009 ).
In Algeria, soil tillage is not a very common practice for the date palm. This
operation is only carried out to establish the irrigation seguias (canals) or the place-
ment of boards to divert water for understory crops. The work is often manual using
simple equipment along with some mechanized operations.
Studies of mineral fertilization of the date palm in El Arfi ane and Ain Benoui
(Algerian Southeast) helped to determine the following formula in terms of inputs
of fertilizer for date palms per hectare: 36,900 kg of nitrogen, 36,900 kg of phos-
phoric acid, and 73,800 kg of potassium hydroxide (Munier 1973 ). The planting
density is often standard at 120 palms/ha. Fertial ( 2010 ) proposed 600 U of N per
ha, applied at three stages: fl owering, fruit set, and fruiting.
In most date palm groves, farmers generally apply organic fertilizer. Applications
are irregular because of the high price of the fertilizer; they are carried out every
2 years, or even 4–6 years. In the Ziban oases, the recommended standards of the
Institute of Technical Development of Saharan Agriculture (ITDAS) of 100 kg of
manure/year/tree are not followed (Benziouche and Chehat
2010 ).
Regarding irrigation, farmers use wells with pendulum water lifts (Touat,
Ouargla), noria or saniya water wheels (M’zab Oued Ghir), foggaras or qanate
(Adrar), and the ghouts system of capillary water (Oued Souf) (Daoud and Halitim
1994 ). Currently, well drilling is dominant especially in potential new areas.
Monciero ( 1950 ) in El Arfi ane gave an average coeffi cient/ha of 50 l/min, which
corresponds to an annual volume of 26,383 m
3 per hectare distributed as follows: (a)
cool season, October to March, 40 l/min/ha, irrigation per week and (b) hot period,
April to September, 60 l /min/ha or even two irrigations per week.
The irrigation system most widely used consists of basins or ponds and diverting
water from them using boards. In large farms, irrigation water is obtained by drilling
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
to the Miopliocen and Albian aquifers. Localized irrigation can be expanded in
these farms through water conservation. However, it should be noted that most
Algerian date palm groves suffer from insuffi cient water due to poor management
practices (Benziouche and Chehat 2010 ; Bouammar 2009 ).
In Algeria, fi eld drainage is generally simple, using open ditches despite their
disadvantages from silting, landslides, and the need of frequent dredging. Given the
ineffectiveness of most drainage throughout the oases, the salinity of irrigation
water as well as the soil is often high.
The culling of senescent palms is the main care given to date palm groves. This
eliminates an average of 8–12 leaves/palm/year (Hussein et al.
1979 ). All active
leaves should be maintained as the date production relies on them for photosynthe-
sis. Other tree care practices such as pruning dead leaves and petioles are rarely
done. Thorn cutting is not practiced in Algeria. Generally, farmers do not manage
the number of leaves the tree carries, failing to take note of and removing leaves
which are no longer active. Lack of proper date palm care is related to fi nancial
constraints and the shortage of labor (Fig. 4.3 ).
4.2.3 Pollination, Fruit Quality, and Metaxenia
In Algerian oases, farmers use any available pollen source for artifi cial pollination,
because it appears there is no incompatibility between male and female date palms
(Pereau-Leroy 1958 ). In rare cases, some female cultivars provide better production
when pollinated by certain dokkars (male palms). This seems to be related to com-
patibility between the male and female cultivars.
During dokkar owering, the farmers cut the male spathes to obtain fresh fl ower
spikelets for pollination. In the case of excess pollen or when the male trees bloom
earlier than females, the spikelets are placed on paper or fabric to dry. After drying,
the spikelets are collected and stored in cardboard boxes or cloth bags and kept in
ventilated enclosures away from heat and moisture. Previously, farmers kept dried
spikelets between the leaves of date palms in a shaded area at their farms. This prac-
tice has declined as it does not preserve pollen viability. Refrigeration (spikelets or
pollen powder) and freezing (pollen powder) are rarely used for pollen storage in
Algeria (Boughediri et al.
1995 ). The traditional and most commonly used pollina-
tion practice in Algeria is to place a few male spikelets into the female infl ores-
cences and to tie the spathe back together with a green leafl et.
Mechanical pollination is simple, mixing pollen with a thinner (e.g., talcum,
wheat fl our, ash) and using a hand or backpack duster, but this is practiced only on
a few experimental stations or pilot farms. Tests have shown that it is possible to use
only 9 % pollen in the mixture with a thinner (Babahani et al.
1997 ).
The date palm, like all fruit trees, is alternate bearing. Indeed, every 2 years,
without human intervention, the date palm bears many fruits. The following year,
the harvest will be less, so it is necessary to do fruit thinning to provide more con-
sistency in the production and enhance the size and improve the quality of dates.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
In Algeria, two methods of fruit production management are used: reducing the
number of infl orescences on a tree and branch thinning of the fruit stalks. The reduc-
tion regime is usually done between May and June by reducing the number of infl o-
rescences and is based on eliminating old and weak stalks. Fruit thinning is not
widely practiced in Algeria, the exception being with the Deglet Noor cv. in the
Ziban oases (Benziouche and Chehat 2010 ). There are different methods of thin-
ning: cutting out the center branch of the fruit, reducing the number of fruit branch
on the periphery, and a combination of the two. The combined method helps over-
come the disadvantages of each while combining their advantages. Indeed, thinning
at the periphery eliminates sterile fl owers that may exist on the ends of the
Thinning of the center fruit strands keeps the individual fruit surfaces dry, espe-
cially if the air is moist and warm (Babahani 2011 ). Some farmers practice branch
thinning, reducing the number of fruits on each branch.
Fig. 4.3 Date palm groves.
( a ) Modern garden. ( b )
Traditional garden (Source:
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
4.2.4 Pest and Disease Control
Certain pests such as the moth Myelois sp. and the spider mite boufaroua ( Oligomycin
afrasiaticus ) attack date palms causing serious damage to date production and can
lead to deadly diseases. These latter have been described by Bliss ( 1936 ), Brun and
Laville ( 1965 ), and Carpenter and Klotz ( 1966 ). However, some of them remain
poorly understood.
The main incurable disease and the one causing the most damage is bayoud.
Other diseases attack the roots and cause trunk-base rot, terminal bud disease, and
leaf disease; fruit and infl orescence diseases are not insignifi cant since most of them
cause severe fruit loss. Recently, a viral disease called brittle leaf disease is worry-
ing Algerian date growers after its appearance in an important region (Fig. 4.4 ).
Bayoud disease is caused by a fungal soil pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp.
albedinis (Foa) Malençon Snyd and Hans (Malençon 1934 ), abbreviated as Fo a .
The disease probably originated in the Draa Valley in Morocco, where it was fi rst
Fig. 4.4 Cultural techniques. ( a , b ) Pollination, ( c ) thinning, ( d ) pruning (Source: Babahani
2011 ) )
N. Bouguedoura et al.
observed in 1890. From there, it spread eastward more than 2,000 km and in 50 years
destroying two-thirds of Moroccan palms, ten million trees, as cited in Pereau- Leroy
( 1958 ), and palm groves of western Algeria numbering three million trees.
Foa is an imperfect ascomycete present in the soil which becomes virulent in
contact with the roots of date palm. Various studies (Matheron and Benbadis
1985 ; Rahmania 2000 ) suggest that the penetration of the fungus is via the roots.
It then invades the vascular system of the palms, causing gradual leaf drying and
bleaching, hence the name (bayoud means white ). When the terminal bud is
reached, the tree dies within a few months or a few years after the onset of the
All attempts at chemical control against this scourge have been unsuccessful
(Bulit et al.
1967 ; Louvet and Toutain 1973 ; Saaidi 1979 ). Various control measures
have been used to counteract the general effects of bayoud, such as improving farm-
ing practices, biological and chemical applications, as well as genetic control tech-
niques. Furthermore, genetic control, the use of resistant cultivars, remains the most
promising and least toxic to the environment.
The generalized resistance of cultivar Taqerbucht to bayoud is remarkable in the
oases of Tidikelt and In Salah. It is a cultivar that is endemic to the western regions;
it requires development and proliferation along with other resistant cultivars or the
creation of new cultivars combining good fruit quality and strong resistance to the
disease. Selecting resistant cultivars or khalts (seedlings) is a long-term undertak-
ing, which has been going on since 1983 in Algeria.
Research on microorganism antagonists has resulted in the characterization and
identifi cation of new Saharan species of promise to combat bayoud (Sabaou and
Bounaga 1987 ). The chemical industry continues to develop new control substances
to control bayoud (Boulenouar et al. 2009 ).
Boufaroua is an insect, an Acarid spider mite ( Oligonychus afrasiaticus McGr),
which feeds on dates, causing them to become dry. The fruits become hard and the
epicarp turns a brown color and becomes dusty. To combat this pest, preventive
measures are maintenance and cleaning of gardens and chemical treatment by dust-
ing with sulfur and lime.
Djerb or Sem
Djerb or Sem insect attack is caused by white cochineal ( Parlatoria blanchardii
Targ.) which parasitizes young stems and can invade infl orescences. These date
palm scale insects feed on sap and inject a toxin that affects the chlorophyll produc-
tion. The covering of the leaf surface by the pest impedes respiration and photosyn-
thesis. The physical result is buckling of the leaf surface; chemical treatment using
petroleum oil during the winter period (Nadji
2003 ) is harmful. Preferable is bio-
logical control by the introduction of ladybirds which are predatory to cochineal, a
method that is less used.
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
Date Moth
Larvae of the date moth, Myelois ceratoniae Zell. (Ectomyelois), damage date fruit
making them unfi t for human consumption; other species infest storage facilities.
Control is by chemical treatment with malathion + parathion 2 + 1.25 % for each
palm. Biological control using ladybirds gives good results, as well as sterilizing
male worms by radiation and releasing them into the plantations.
Brittle Leaf Disease
This disease appears to be a physiological disorder although its etiology remains
unknown. It affects the palm at the cellular level, mainly the chloroplasts and cell
walls. Structural modifi cations, probably related to those physiological and molecu-
lar changes, cause leaf dryness. Brittle leaf disease has been reported in Algeria
since 1976.
4.2.5 Agroforestry Utilization and Potential
In the Algerian oasis system, cereal crops underwent an expansion between 1987
and 1994. After 1994, there has been a decline due to lower yields, and this led to a
decrease in investment in dates. Other crops such as vegetables, fodder, and other
trees have undergone development. In particular, olive cultivation has expanded
with very large new plantings in the southeast (Biskra, Ghardaïa). Animal rearing in
oases is characterized by the dominance of goat and sheep; the products are almost
exclusively produced for sale. Oases are supported by the sale of farm products. The
state subsidies contribute to the fi nancing of oasis operations. The support of oasis
ecosystems requires coordination between entities of the agricultural sector, farm-
ers, and investors to ensure sustainability.
4.2.6 Limitations and Prospects
A lack of means to counteract abandonment of some maintenance work in most date
groves and the insuffi ciency of prophylactic treatments (maintaining orchards and
collecting fallen fruit) are the main causes of unsatisfactory yield returns. Other fac-
tors, such as the lack of remedial and chemical control of date pests, which are
rarely performed or done improperly without compliance with the technical instruc-
tions (dose, scheduling), contribute to this situation. Moreover, a lack of extension
services, the low availability of recommended pesticides, and their high cost are
also negative factors. None of the date farm operations apply the appropriate techni-
cal practices fully and properly such as artifi cial pollination, pruning, irrigation
N. Bouguedoura et al.
regimes, and harvest. In other words, some very important technical and economi-
cal operations are not realized at all or are done ineffectively. Some farmers rarely
apply mineral fertilizers and manure, or they are applied at amounts far below the
recommended standards.
The ght against diseases caused by pests requires a considerable investment.
Many studies have been devoted to bayoud; chemical eradication was performed in
the infested location of El Meniaa, and since then, this oasis remains unscathed.
Attempted fumigations were also tested in the oases of M’zab. However, this
approach is expensive and may cause environmental problems affecting human and
animal health. On date palm plantations, efforts by agricultural services have
encouraged farmers to remove diseased palms. In situations where bayoud has
caused considerable damage, some farmers conduct various empirical practices.
Where outreach efforts have had an impact, conscientious farmers apply preventive
measures recommended by experts or plant protection agents. The spread of bayoud
in the newly infested areas and in isolated oases is furthered by the lack of knowl-
edge of the population regarding the mechanisms of transmission.
Actions carried out to combat bayoud on the ground are diverse. The main rec-
ommendation of distribution of the cultivar Taqerbucht involved establishment, in
the area of M’Guiden, Timimoun, and El Meniaa, of a date grove exclusively of
Taqerbucht as a fi eld of mother palms. The introduction and gradual spread of this
cultivar is remarkable in the oasis of Tidikelt. In the settlement of In Salah, Taqerbucht
became among the most abundant cultivars. Elsewhere, the farmers have continued
the distribution of this cultivar even if sometimes it does not appear well adapted.
The approach of utilizing genetic resources has been promoted to show the
importance of each cultivar. These works helped to identify a dozen cultivars recog-
nized as potentially resistant to bayoud. The need to confi rm the resistance of prom-
ising cultivars has led researchers to develop new approaches to fi eld and laboratory
experimentation. The path of genetic control being both practical and promising,
researchers have opted for the screening of natural seedling populations ( khalts )
followed by studies of their molecular markers.
4.3 Genetic Resources and Conservation
The oasis system plays ecological, social, economic, and cultural roles with the date
palm as the main element. According to Benkhalifa ( 2007 ), citing Jain ( 1997 ), date
palm genetic resources are classifi ed into several categories:
(a) Traditional cultivars from an intuitive selection and used in traditional palm
plantations. Those having Arabic or Berber vernacular names may be specifi c
to a given region.
(b) Natural populations of male and female palm trees from seed ( khalts ). In gen-
eral, they are not subject to scientifi c selection, but in some countries, the spread
of date palms is only by seed. In Algeria, the population of khalts represents
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
nearly 10 % in some oases and can be a reservoir of new clones selected for
some interesting characteristics such as fruit quality, productivity, resistance,
and early bearing.
(c) The advanced cultivars or modern cultivars from controlled crosses. In Algeria,
breeding programs in El Arfi ane launched in 1940 and in Adrar in 1970 were
ultimately unsuccessful.
(d) Controlled hybrids which include new genetic material obtained by biotechno-
logical means.
In this classifi cation, traditional cultivars and khalts are found in traditional oasis
and are estimated to number nearly 1,000 cultivars.
4.3.1 Research in Genetics, Breeding, and Conservation
Because date palm is heterozygous and dioecious, it is very diffi cult to study, espe-
cially from the genetic and improvement perspective. Therefore, these domains have
resulted in few scientifi c works. Initially, there was the need to understand the biology
of the development of new combinations, which was very poorly known. Studies by
Bouguedoura ( 1979 , 1980 ) helped to understand the structure and evolution of differ-
ent axillary productions of date palm and undertook multiplication and improvement
using biotechnology, namely, tissue culture and haplomethods (Bouguedoura 1989 ).
In Algeria, this is the issue of bayoud that has dominated the orientation of research. It
also is why research into the recognition of Fusarium , its culture, and its genetics has
developed along with investigations of soil resistance to this fungus (Amir et al. 1996 ).
Recently, signifi cant results have been achieved in the production of date palm
protoplasts; however, plant regeneration from protoplast-induced callus remains
limited and requires further research (Assani et al. 2011 ; Chabane et al. 2007 , 2010 ).
Protoplast fusion made between the sensitive variety Deglet Noor and resistant vari-
ety Taqerbucht has not yet resulted in mass production of somatic hybrids. Some
plantlets obtained shown 4 n level of ploidy (Chabane
2007 ). Moreover, induced
mutagenesis is another potentially powerful biotechnological tool for date palm
improvement (Jain 2012 ). Currently, selected mutants induced from cvs. Deglet
Noor and Teggaza are being evaluated for disease resistance in bayoud-infested
elds as a part of a joint project (No. AlG/5/023) realized by INRAA and sponsored
by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (unpublished results).
4.3.2 Current Status and Prospect of Genetic Resources
A census by researchers from Research Laboratory of Arid Lands (LRZA), INRAA,
and the Commission for the Agricultural Development of Saharan Regions
(CDARS) shows the rich genetic heritage of Algerian date palms (Acourene et al.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
2007 ; Belguedj 2002 ; Belguedj and Tirichine 2011 ; Brac de la Perrière and
Benkhalifa 1989 ; Brac de la Perrière and Bounaga 1990 ; Hannachi et al. 1998 ).
However, Algeria’s date palm heritage is yet to be fully recorded.
4.3.3 Threats and Degradation
Date palms represented by landraces suffer from strong genetic erosion over many
years. Date palm diversity decreases in the so-called modern palm plantations where
only a small number of cultivars are represented. Such is the case in Zibans and
Oued Righ. Date palm is mainly grown under monoculture focused on the Deglet
Noor cv. along with cvs. Degla Beida, Ghars, and Mech Degla, at the expense of the
ancestral gene pool. This monoculture model has serious consequences, the most
important being genetic erosion, which increases the fragility of the oasis ecosys-
tem, increases dependence on foreign markets sensitive to geopolitical uncertain-
ties, and reduces the diversifi cation of food and income.
Each region of Algerian oases can have cultivars the equivalent of or superior to
Deglet Noor. A broad range of cultivars represent an inexhaustible source of wealth
because they offer a choice of various tastes and meet the needs of local popula-
tions. In addition, production from a larger number of cultivars extends the date
harvest for up to 6 months.
Other factors behind genetic erosion in addition to bayoud disease are a lack of
water for irrigation, soil salinization, and silting. Urbanization and the scarcity of
manpower to care for date palms also accentuate this decline. The spread of Fusarium
soil fungus, very visible in the oases of the southwest and in the center of Algeria,
has caused the disappearance of a large number of cultivars. Only a dozen cultivars
are resistant to or tolerant of bayoud (Brac de la Perrière and Benkhalifa 1991 ).
More attention needs to be paid to prevent loss of the many date palm cultivars,
because most of them are rare and ancient, such as M’charet and Tiwraghin.
4.3.4 Conservation Efforts
Some date palm regions are experiencing a signifi cant decline in date palm diversity
as observed by both scientists and farmers. This regression is evident by the disap-
pearance or shortage of certain cultivars specifi c to some oasis soils. It was in this
context that a United Nations Development Program, PNUD (RAB98/G31), enti-
tled Participatory management of date palm genetic resources in the oases of the
Maghreb , was implemented in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in 2001–2005. The
project’s main objective was the preservation and sustainability of oasis ecosystem
production by maintaining date palm genetic diversity.
In Algeria, the project was launched in the M’zab (Ghardaïa) oasis region where
efforts are focused on two factors: fi rst, the replacement of traditional cultivars with
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
a small number of cultivars as favored by the national development programs and,
second, the fi ght against market forces promoting certain cultivars of major national
and international commercial value to the detriment of local cultivars. The project
has made a signifi cant contribution to the conservation of date palm biodiversity and
the sustainable development of oasis systems.
The highlights and key fi ndings from the comprehensive IPGRI et al. ( 2008 )
report are as follows:
(e) Implementation of a participatory methodology diagnostic for inventory and
screening of cultivars among the dates of M’zab.
(f) In situ conservation of endangered cultivars (30 %) by planting offshoots from
these cultivars or in vitro propagation in the laboratory of INRA of 24 cultivars
screened and selected by the farmers themselves.
(g) Enhancement of the capacity of management to maintain genetic resources in
situ of date palm has been strengthened by the integration of environment and
development associations. Training in the areas of participatory diagnoses was
given to associations, technicians and farmers to better manage and conserve in
situ date palm genetic resources. Thus, farmers have fostered new selections
from khalts .
(h) Research and development of alternative markets to promote the so-called cul-
tivars, common varieties , by incentivizing part of the cost of transformation of
the date fruit or the use of by-products of the date palm. Thus, the knowledge
and the know-how (woodcrafts, woodworking, vinegar, syrup and jams, and
other date products) from these cultivars were enhanced through date fairs initi-
ated by the RAB project. These alternative markets are likely to counteract
genetic erosion and make possible reintroduction of these cultivars in situ. The
participatory approach of the project has brought various actors together
(researchers, farmers, associations) for research and development.
4.3.5 Germplasm Banks of Genetic Resources
The conservation and production of date palm are facing problems related to biol-
ogy. There are two strategies to conserve plant genetic diversity: in situ and ex situ
conservation (UNCED 1992 ).
In Situ Conservation
Farmers have always protected some biodiversity in their gardens, preserving culti-
vars of traditional date palm groves. However, the number of cultivars is very small
because the multiplication of selected ones is limited by the low number of off-
shoots produced during the life of the date palm or the advanced age of palms, when
offshoot growth ceases.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
Living date palm collections are located at stations of the Technical Institute of
Saharan Agricultural Development (ITDAS) Ain Ben Noui and Feliache in Biskra
and El Arfi ane in Oued Righ. There is a fi eld collection of 49 local date palm culti-
vars held by INRAA, but unfortunately, they do not have computerized or docu-
mented data.
Ex Situ Conservation
Date palm seeds have a long viability. However, seeds are heterozygous and there-
fore do not allow for the conservation of specifi c genotypes. It has therefore not
been adopted in Algeria. Tests of pollen conservation were also made by Boughediri
et al. (
1995 ). Results showed that the pollen viability of date palm after 230 days of
storage was higher when held at 4 °C in the presence of CaCl
2 , compared to storage
at 4 to −20 °C or after lyophilization. The use of biotechnology overcomes these
diffi culties. Tissue culture by somatic embryogenesis and organogenesis allows
mass production of clones from selected individuals. Tissue culture is supported by
According to Engelmann ( 2010 ), cryopreservation (liquid nitrogen, −196 °C) is
the only available technique at this time for the safe conservation of plant material
grown in vitro with reduced input and costs.
Studies are being conducted to understand the biological and biophysical mecha-
nisms involved in a cryopreservation protocol. An inventory of the conservation of
date palm genetic resources revealed a lack of fi nancial resources and organization
to provide adequate support.
4.3.6 Quarantine Regulations
A series of regulations relative to plant protection have been issued by the
Department of Legal Affairs and Regulations (DAJR) of the MADR in January
2013 ( ). Application of the regulations to the date palm quar-
antine is designed to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful pests, just as it
determines and organizes control measures to counteract them. The regulations
governing this operation focus primarily on the list of plant pests and measures to
monitor and control them.
Decree No. 93-286 of 11/23/93 regulates phytosanitary border control. It man-
dates inspection of all plants and plant products for import and export to prevent
introduction of quarantined pests (insects, mites, nematodes, phytopathogenic
fungi, bacteria, viruses, mycoplasma, and all other similar harmful pathogens) into
the country.
Besides the objective of developing exports and standardizing the quality of
exported products, control measures can also reduce the level of pest control neces-
sary inside the country. Enforcement is carried out by sworn offi cers appointed by
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
the phytosanitary authority. These enforcement agents may use the Institute of Plant
Protection (INPV) or any other scientifi c body for any diagnosis or expertise needed
for border control of plants. For the date palm, the list of harmful organisms whose
introduction is prohibited includes Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. albedinis and red
palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus .
Decree No. 95-387 of 11/28/95 establishes the list of plant pests and measures to
monitor and control them. Phytosanitary directives on specifi c measures are appli-
cable to Foa. Other ministerial decrees have been promulgated: (a) Order No. 489/
SM of 03/26/70 relating to the fi ght against bayoud date palm disease and (b) Order
No. 01295 of 11/17/77 amending and supplementing Decree No. 489/SM of 03/26/70.
There are also orders regulating the prevention and/or the fi ght against bayoud in
the provinces of Adrar, Ghardaïa, Ouargla, El Oued, and Biskra. The decree aims to
limit the spread of pests from areas already contaminated to uninfected areas in the
country. This charge is not only to inspect nurseries, fi elds, and date palms but also
to monitor all established plantations.
4.4 Plant Tissue Culture
Traditional date palm breeding techniques have limitations. The rapid expansion of
date palms in the general program of development of Saharan lands, and the need
for rapid multiplication of large numbers of selected cultivars, required the estab-
lishment of tissue culture laboratories. This began in Algeria in the 1970s with the
FAO program in the Maghreb countries.
4.4.1 Role and Importance
In Algeria, the date palm propagation program by tissue culture was implemented
at a Maghreb countries’ meeting in Algiers in 1972, organized by UNDP/FAO, fol-
lowing the loss of ten million palm trees in Morocco and three million in Algeria,
due to bayoud. In fact, only these actions could respond to the need for quick
replacement of the millions of lost date palms and to create new date areas.
Furthermore, these techniques would fairly and quickly multiply resistant and rare
endangered cultivars which could be multiplied by tissue culture.
4.4.2 Research and Development
Despite the wealth of accumulated knowledge about Foa and the host plant,
and notwithstanding all the control methods applied, over a century after its
appearance, bayoud has not been controlled or eradicated. It continues to
N. Bouguedoura et al.
expand its range and is now reported in Mauritania, with sporadic outbreaks
occurring in Algeria. Researchers agree that the only way to combat the disease
is to develop resistant cultivars, but very few have been found in Algeria. In
general, those cultivars that do not bear commercial quality fruit can only be
developed in the region where they originate. Vegetative propagation by tradi-
tional means is inadequate given the limited number of offshoots produced per
individual palm.
Given the scarcity of resistant cultivars and their average fruit quality, another
approach is to create new resistant cultivars through biotechnology, because con-
ventional means by controlled crosses requires a long time period and the outcome
is uncertain. For these reasons, propagation techniques and breeding by in vitro
culture hold the most promise: somatic embryogenesis for the multiplication of
resistant cultivars and protoplast fusion using resistant cultivars and cultivars bear-
ing good-quality dates.
Somatic embryogenesis is a technique which was adopted by LRZA at the
University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene (USTHB) and
INRAA and is focusing on several cultivars. However, improvements are needed
to remove the time and synchronization constraints of germination of somatic
In vitro culture began in Algeria at INRAA and the Department of Botany at the
University of Algiers in 1973. In 1979, the fi rst results on a laboratory scale were
reported (Bouguedoura
1979 ). This work was enhanced by the researchers of LRZA
(Arban 2009 ; Bouguedoura 1991 ; Bouguedoura et al. 1990 ; Fergani 1998 ; Si-Dehbi
2009 ) using vegetative organs and young fl oral explants.
These various studies have shown that callus is a mandatory step for any multi-
plication process by in vitro culture in the date palm. The multiplication step of
these calli using a medium enriched with casein allows production of large amounts
of embryogenic callus which develops into plantlets where root development is
enhanced by adding an auxin. In this context, INRAA introduced 13 rare in vitro
cultivars selected by farmers in the Ghardaïa region; the rate of adoption has been
signifi cant.
4.4.3 Scale-Up Production and Other Tissue Culture
Preparation of Cell Suspensions and Plant Regeneration
Callogenic strains are either directly oriented to a later embryogenic expression on
agar and shoot formation or used for the initiation of embryogenic cell suspensions
in liquid medium. During the initiation of cell suspension, the application of pectin-
ase at 1 % in nodular callus for 3 h is suffi cient to cause dissociation of the cells.
These cells are the starting point for a viable embryogenic cell suspension. The
growth of cell suspension culture results in the formation of cell aggregates in the
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
maintaining medium, then in the wash medium without growth regulators. During
the 5 weeks of culture in the maintenance medium, cells multiply rapidly to reach
an exponential phase. After this phase, the rate of multiplication of the cell suspen-
sion declines. In liquid medium under continuous stirring at 90–100 rpm, the cell
suspensions are organized into small embryogenic cell aggregates. These cells
aggregates are structured over time to give proembryos able to regenerate somatic
embryos and viable seedlings (Fig. 4.5 ).
Protoplasts, Regeneration, and Fusion
Protoplasts can also be isolated directly from callus clumps harvested from cell
suspension cultures. Estimates show that the yield of protoplasts depends on the
basic plant material. Thus, the initial material which revealed a high yield of proto-
plasts from the Deglet Noor cv. is calli from vegetative explants and fl oral explants
with 12.01 × 100,000 and 3.88 × 100,000 protoplasts per gram of cells, respectively.
Similarly, in cv. Taqerbucht, the highest rate of protoplasts was obtained from callus
of vegetative explants and fl oral explants as 9.66 × 100,000 and 1.32 × 100,000 cells
per gram, respectively. The protoplasts were then cultured at a density of 106 ml
−1 .
An early regeneration of the cell wall is visible under a microscope with the aid of
calcofl uor from the third day of culture. Cell divisions settled after about 2 weeks to
form microcalli. The microcalli formed on the feeder layer or in the liquid medium
and then subcultured on the callus medium become calli which are then transferred
to a solid medium multiplication. Calli from microcalli formed from protoplasts
plated on the regeneration medium; the formation of somatic embryos occurred eas-
ily after this step. They are transferred individually onto the germination medium
for the development of plantlets (Fig. 4.5 ).
Protoplasts are also the material of choice for the fusion of genetic material from
the two cultivars: one resistant to bayoud is Taqerbucht and another sensitive but
with very good-quality fruit is Deglet Noor. The LRZA team focused on this tech-
nique for 8 years. After being able to produce protoplasts in large quantities from
the two cultivars, it was possible to fuse them and obtain somatic hybrids with a 4n
ploidy level, twice the parents’ ploidy, as revealed by fl ow cytometry (Chabane
2007 ); it is still necessary to determine the genetics of the new production for a valid
4.4.4 Commercial Production
Research on somatic embryogenesis from callus or cell suspensions regenerated
vitro plants, which were planted in Adrar, Touggourt, and El Meniaa. Currently,
they are in the public domain for agriculture, university, and scientifi c research insti-
tutes. A private production laboratory exists in Ghardaïa, but their results are not yet
N. Bouguedoura et al.
4.4.5 In Vitro Protocols
To initiate in vitro cultures, the plant material commonly used is the heart of the
date palm offshoot or very young fl owers from reproductive date palms. After ster-
ilization in an antifungal solution, the heart is cut into different fragments of
Fig. 4.5 Date palm tissue culture. ( a ) Friable callus from female fl owers, ( b ) germination of
somatic embryos regenerated from callus of apical shoot, ( c ) development of rooted plantlets from
callus, ( d ) cytological aspect of cell suspension, ( e , f ) detailed histological cell aggregates with
proembryos in cell suspension established from fl owers calli, ( g ) development of rooted plantlets
from cell suspension, ( h ) protoplasts isolated from embryogenic callus, ( i ) protoplast in division,
( j ) formation of microcallus, ( k ) embryos from microcallus, ( l ) evolution of microcallus to plant-
lets (Source: Chabane et al. (
2007 ); Si-Dehbi et al. ( 2013a ) )
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
0.5–1 cm, while the fl ower spikes are fragmented into one to two fl owers per explant.
The explants are placed aseptically on a callus initiation medium consisting of
the basic solution Murashige and Skoog ( 1962 ) (MS) supplemented with 2,4-D and
IPA, Morel vitamins (Morel and Wetmore 1951 ), and 30 g L
−1 sucrose. The medium
is solidifi ed with agar (Sigma) to 0.7 %. The pH is adjusted to 5.7, and the medium
is dispensed into test tubes and then autoclaved for vegetative explants or in Petri
dishes whose medium is autoclaved prior to fl oral explants. The cultures are incu-
bated in total darkness at 27 ± 1 °C. Subcultures at intervals of 1 month are carried
out until a signifi cant mass of callogenesis is obtained.
For the embryogenesis induction from callus, regeneration of embryos is real-
ized in MS medium enriched with BAP or without growth regulators. Their rooting
is favored by the addition of ANA.
The cell suspensions are obtained either after mincing the callus and cultivating
them in liquid medium in fl asks at approximately 0.5 g of callus in dissociation on
20 ml of medium or after treatment of calluses by pectinase at 1 % for 1, 3, and 6 h.
The recovered cells are cultured in the dark in a stirred liquid medium at a speed of
50 rpm for a period of 2–4 weeks. After 1 month of culture, clusters of cells are trans-
ferred to a medium free of IPA at a rate of about 0.5 g of plant material per 20 ml of
medium. The cultures are then on continuous stirring at 90 rev/min with diffuse light
at a temperature of 25–27 °C and a photoperiod of 3,000 Lux 12 h/12 h. Subcultures
are made every 15–20 days. After a period of 2–3 months, the cell suspension, after
histological analysis, is used as a source of production of protoplasts or somatic
embryos. The isolation of protoplasts is done according to the technique based on the
use of cellulases and pectinases adopted for bananas, Musa sp. (Assani et al.
2002 ).
Callus and cell suspensions are macerated for 12–15 h in the enzyme solution at 27 °C
in total darkness. The product of maceration is fi ltered using two sieves (100/25 µm).
Purifi cation of protoplasts is carried out according to the protocol described by Assani
et al. ( 2006 ) by two centrifugations at 65 g for 5 min each in a washing solution con-
sisting of 204 mM KCl and 67 mM CaCl
2 . The protoplasts are then cultured in a liquid
medium of the same composition as the callus. The protoplast yield was estimated by
Nageotte cell. The results are expressed as yield per gram of callus. And the viability
of protoplasts is determined by fl uorescein diacetate (FDA) (Widholm
1972 ).
4.5 Cultivar Identifi cation
The identifi cation of selected cultivars over time is made by farmers themselves
using their ancestral knowledge. But this knowledge is lost unless identifi cation can
be substantiated and documented by researchers.
Genetic resources of the date palm are from selections by farmers over thousands
of years. This selection process is diffi cult because of the dioecious nature and long
development cycle of date palm. Another relevant factor is that oasis agroecosys-
tems are very fragile and unstable. The knowledge of the farmers of the identifi ca-
tion as well as the classifi cation and selection of the genetic diversity of date palm
N. Bouguedoura et al.
has revealed the presence of a large number of cultivars which have allowed the
establishment of oases with date palms very specifi c to a region.
In Algeria, the selection is made to a small extent from seedling dates ( khalts ), but
mainly from offshoots of cultivars from the same garden or of other areas. The pro-
tection and conservation of date palm genetic resources require a deeper understanding
of biodiversity and the different mechanisms of selection by the farmers.
4.5.1 Morphological Characterization
Identifi cation and naming of cultivars is based mainly on the morphological charac-
teristics of the fruit and less importantly on the morphology of the tree itself. This
description is very diffi cult as it is possible for the same cultivar to exhibit morpho-
logical differences from one palm to another. Only experienced farmers can distin-
guish among cultivars in their own gardens, identifying cultivars from visual
observations and fruit taste.
The scientifi c use of morphological markers has been standardized across the
Maghreb as a result of RAB/98/G31/A/1G/71 Project and IPGRI et al. ( 2005 ).
Cultivar identifi cation is based not only on qualitative and quantitative fruit and seed
characteristics but also on certain other vegetative characteristics.
As to the progress of surveys, new data are added to the identifi cation records,
specifi cally resistance to bayoud and other diseases, habits and uses of dates, and
various by-products. The characteristics considered are so numerous and varying
with the age of the trees that it seems impossible to distinguish cultivars by this
phenological method.
The work of Brac de la Perrière and Benkhalifa ( 1989 ) on the variability of land-
races in southwestern Algeria, based on the morphological characteristics of the fruit
and seed, showed distinctions between some cultivars as well as intra-cultivar vari-
ability, which seems genetic. There is in fact an intra-cultivar variability due to envi-
ronmental infl uences that affect date fruit morphology. Thus, fruits of cultivar Deglet
Noor from Tolga or Biskra are very good, while those of the same cultivar grown in
M’zab are generally drier and smaller and therefore of a much lower quality.
The simplest morphological characterization is still based on the fruit character-
istics, but those mentioned above are produced after a vegetative phase of several
years. Thus, new accurate and faster methods of identifi cation are imposed based on
biochemical and molecular characterization.
4.5.2 Biochemical Characterization
Two main types of compounds have been analyzed to study the genetic diversity of
date palm in Algeria: fl avonoids and isoenzymes. Phenolic compounds are consid-
ered very useful biochemical markers in the qualitative and quantitative comparison
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
among different cultivars. They open the way for intraspecifi c patterning and iden-
tify several cultivars.
Regarding the use of polyphenols, work began in the 1990s with the objective to
make an inventory of the cultivars of the Phoenix dactylifera L. by searching bio-
chemical markers. A total of 50 individuals belonging to nine cultivated dates were
analyzed for their fl avonoid content. The description of HPLC profi les of glycosyl
avones and glycosyl fl avonols initially enabled, for the fi rst time, the identifi cation
of 15 compounds (Ouafi 2007 ).
Structural analysis showed that fl avonic aglycones are specifi c markers to the
date palm. A second study showed that the diversity of the fl avonic glycosides,
considered as markers, permits distinguishing two sets of cultivated date palms:
some are quite homogeneous (Ahartane, Aghamu) and others are not (Deglet Noor,
Taqerbucht). The second set corresponds to cultivars submitted to intensive cultiva-
tion and phenotypical selection by date palm farmers. A negative correlation is
shown between the content of fl avones and the degree of lignifi cation in the date
palm which suggests that the process of lignifi cation is quicker in resistant culti-
vars; thereby, the resistance to bayoud will be constitutive (Ouafi and Bounaga
2012 ).
Moreover, a test of conformity was made between the adults and vitro plants of
cv. Feggus using the fl avonic content. A second test was conducted between male
and female plants of cvs. Deglet Noor and Degla Beida, using the same compounds.
It revealed that fl avonoids cannot constitute chemical markers related to the gender;
there is conformity between the male and female palm trees of the same cultivar
(Ouafi and Bounaga 2008 , 2010 ).
Bennaceur et al. ( 2010 ) characterized phytoconstituents of secondary metabo-
lism of leafl ets from 20 date palm cultivars. A phytochemical screening was estab-
lished and used to highlight phenolic acids, fl avonoids, and tannins. However, these
metabolites have not been identifi ed and did not allow the identifi cation of cultivars
tested in a single way.
Isoenzymes which are multiple molecular forms of enzyme have similar cata-
lytic activities in an organism. The existence of isoenzymes in a species allows a
better adaptation in metabolism to respond to the needs of a tissue or a particular
stage of development. A study by Bennaceur et al. (
1991 ) of the leafl ets of 186
individuals belonging to 31 different Algerian date cultivars from different oases
found that of the seven enzyme systems tested, only fi ve systems were selected
(alcohol dehydrogenase, ADH; diaphorase, DIA; glutamic-oxaloacetic, GOT; acid
phosphatase, ACP; endopeptidase, leucine aminopeptidase, LAP; phosphogluco-
mutase, PGM) which allowed the identifi cation of 20 cultivars. An intra-cultivar
variability was detected among cvs. Hartane, Taqerbucht, Tazerzayt, and Ghars.
Individuals of cv. Deglet Noor were homogeneous based on the isoenzyme
profi le.
All biochemical compounds (fl avonoids and isoenzymes) were not totally dis-
criminatory for differentiating between Algerian cultivars but are considered useful
markers in other date palm cultivars.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
4.5.3 Molecular Characterization
Studies of RAPD (random amplifi ed polymorphic DNA) markers were conducted
by Bouchireb and Clark ( 1997 ) using 6 arbitrary primers of 39 individuals from 8
cultivars. Benkhalifa (personal communication, 1990) studied 385 individuals
representing male and female date palms and other species of Phoenix with 9 arbi-
trary primers. RAPD data easily isolate the date palms in relation to other species of
the genus Phoenix . The results showed that intra-cultivar variability does not exist
for some popular cultivars such as Deglet Noor and confi rm the synonymy for cases
like Tilemsu/Hmira; similarity to the cultivar Feggus was modifi ed by the dialects
of different regions and the presence of an intra-cultivar variability in the case of cv.
Clusters obtained in the date palm cultivars do not show a genetic structuration
depending on the geographical origin (cultivars introduced from Morocco, Iraq, and
Egypt and undifferentiated Algerian cultivars), resistance or susceptibility to Foa,
morphological or taste characteristics of dates, or sex differentiation.
Before the development of date palm microsatellites, 24 microsatellite primers
of coconut ( Cocos nucifera ) and 18 microsatellite primers of oil palm ( Elaeis
guineensis ) were tested on 50 individuals of 10 Algerian cultivars of date palm. The
results showed polymorphism and transferability of these markers to the date palm
(Bennaceur et al. 2000 ).
The use of 12 pairs of universal chloroplast primers of tobacco, Nicotiana taba-
cum , on 60 cultivars of Algerian date palms using the SSCP and CAPS generated a
low polymorphism in these cultivars (Bennaceur et al. 2002 ).
Billotte et al. ( 2004 ) developed the fi rst microsatellite of date palm. Their use by
many researchers allowed a breakthrough in the study of the genetic diversity of the
date palm and the establishment of key cultivar identifi cation in several countries
(Zehdi et al. 2004 ).
In Algeria, microsatellites were used by Moussouni (work to be published).
Analysis of genetic diversity and the establishment of the key of the molecular
determination of Algerian cultivars using 18 microsatellites and a chloroplast
genome minisatellite allowed molecular characterization of Algerian date palm cul-
tivation heritage.
A new approach to the study of the genetic diversity of the date palm is the analy-
sis of chloroplast polymorphism. It is the study of genotyping psb ZtrnfM-locus and
20-locus sequencing chloroplast. This study showed the presence of two major hap-
lotypes distributed in all Algerian oases (Moussouni et al.
2011 ). These results were
used to ascertain the date palm’s center of domestication, by comparison with those
obtained on cultivars from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
To determine the genetic relationship among 17 Algerian date palm cultivars,
Conserved DNA-Derived Polymorphism (CDDP) markers are used. Seven informa-
tive primers were selected from 11 CDDP primers based on their ability to produce
clear and repeatable polymorphic and unambiguous bands among the cultivars. A
total of 43 bands were produced; 31 of them were polymorphic (72.1 %). This method
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
allowed to distinguish clearly between two clusters with the fi rst group including 15
of the 17 cultivars tested and the second included only 2 cvs., Deglet Noor and Feggus,
which have different origin as compared to the other 15 cvs. (Si-Dehbi et al. 2013b ) .
4.6 Cultivar Description
In Algeria, nearly 1,000 cultivars have been inventoried, and their distribution
shows a very marked breakdown into eastern, center, and western portions of the
country. Fifty cultivars are found in two or three regions, but most cultivars are
endemic to the region and their area of origin. Brac de la Perriere and Benkhalifa
( 1989 ) found a very high rate of endemism of 70 % for the dates of the southwestern
and more than 60 % on average in those of the southeastern parts of Algeria.
4.6.1 Growth Requirements
Among the nearly 1,000 cultivars surveyed within a total population of 18 million
date palms, there also exists an impressive number of khalts or dgouls ; these are
francs from seeds that grow randomly in the oases and palm groves, especially those
ravaged by bayoud or abandoned by their owners.
Khalts represent up to 10 % of the population of date palms, and they are a valu-
able resource for new selections by farmers. Depending on fruit quality, productiv-
ity, and more importantly the resistance to diseases, a khalt can be selected to be
cloned and become a cultivar (the term variety is inappropriate in the case of date
palm). It will receive a designation (e.g., Ghars) and therefore can preserve genetic
diversity multiplied vegetatively by offshoots.
In a natural seedling date grove, approximately equal percentages of male and
female palms will be present. However, in a cultivated date palm grove, male palm
trees ( dokkars ) are generally reduced to 1–2 % of the total population to conserve
water and allow more space for female palms. A male palm tree which produces
good-quality pollen can pollinate a hundred female palms ( nakhla in Arabic).
Pollination is achieved manually and males are not given their own appellations.
In some cases of vegetative similarity, a male palm is identifi ed with respect to the
female which it resembles.
4.6.2 Cultivar Distribution
Date palm genetic resources are mainly represented by traditional cultivars which
are female individuals selected by farmers according to their bearing (early July for
early- and December for late-bearing cultivars), productivity, suitability for storage
N. Bouguedoura et al.
(long or moderate duration or unsuited for storage), market value, nutritional value,
taste qualities, and their resistance to drought and diseases, in particular bayoud
(Ben Saadoun and Boulahouat 2010 ). Cultivars receive local vernacular names;
very often, a Berber name for the fruit may indicate a geographic location, the name
of the village, or even an individual farm owner.
Random selection by humans over millennia has led to the evolution of almost
1,000 Algerian cultivars, each adapted to slightly different types of soil, tempera-
ture, and humidity. Cultivars are not evenly distributed across the different oases.
Through the action plan of the MADR, which aims to promote agricultural prod-
ucts, the Algerian date palm cultivation sector has registered and recorded 994 cul-
tivars thus far. Among these, 7.7 million palms are of cv. Deglet Noor, three million
of soft date cvs., and eight million of dry date cvs. (Table
4.1 and Fig. 4.6 ).
4.6.3 Cultivar Production Statistics and Economics
Algeria has an agricultural resource of 18 million date palms occupying an area of
169,380 ha, with ten million palms currently in production. Domestic production of
date fruits is now estimated at more than 500,000 mt per year. It should be noted that
Algeria produced 700,000 mt of dates in the 2011/2012 season, including 30,000 mt
only for export. The level of export is expected to increase to 60,000 mt by the
2014/2015 season. According to experts, the potential of the sector can exceed this
volume. Agricultural services have 40 processing and packaging units scattered
across the Saharan region. Over a period of 6 years, 83,000 date farmers have been
identifi ed.
In eastern Algeria, cv. Deglet Noor fruits intended for export to the north con-
tinue to increase and now represent close to 50 % of the planted population of dates.
Fruits of dry date cvs. Degla Beida and Tinnaser are exported to countries in sub-
Saharan Africa. Sometimes, dates such as the cv. Hmira are exported to Russia and
China. Among the emerging cultivars, Tafezwin is exported to South American
countries. Bentqbala cv. fruit, in a frozen state, is renowned in the local market in
Ghardaïa (East). Agaz, an early-bearing cv., grown in Tidikelt (West), is frequently
marketed in Ouargla and Ghardaïa.
4.6.4 Nutritional Aspects
Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed on the seeds of 9 Algerian
cultivars, 8 from Ghardaïa and 1 from Adrar (Khiat et al. 2011 ). The study allowed
an appreciable quantitative and semi-qualitative estimation of fl avonoids from date
seeds, which is variable from one cultivar to another. Similarly, Mansouri et al.
2005 ) showed that the content of phenolic compounds is highly variable in the
fruits of different cultivars.
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
Table 4.1 Cultivar of the three Algerian date palm areas
Area Region Location
Number of
identifi ed/
reported Names of cultivars identifi ed
East Zibans Biskra, Tolga 9/140 Arechti, Degla Beida, Deglet Noor, Ghars, Ghazi, Mech Degla, Tantboucht, Tinicine, Zoggar
El Oued, El
Meghaier, Djamaa
37/70 Arechti, Degla Beida, Deglet Noor, Ghars, Ghazi, Mech Degla, Tantboucht, Tinicine, Zoggar
Moggar, Halimi-Halwa (Halwaya), Kesba, Khodri, Loulou, Masri-okrya, Tachelilt,
Tacherwint, Tachlikt, Takermust, Takhedrayt, Tantbucht, Taoudent, Tarmount, Zaghraya,
Zehdi, Deglet Noor, Ghars, Takermoust, Tanslit
El Arfi ane,
Ouargla, Touggourt
22/200 Aliyane, Beidh H’mam, Bentqbala, Bouldjib, Degla Beida, Deglet G’rara, Deglet Mechta,
Dguel El Hadj, El Caber, El Kid, Ghars-Halwa, Hamraya, Tafezwin, Akermoust,
Tanetboucht,, Tanslit, Taoudanet, Tawragha, Tazegakht, Tinicine
Aures Khenchela 3/220 Buzrur, ‘Alig, Buhles, Mech Degla, Tanghimen, Tabanist, Khadaji
Tassili Batna 3/180
Center M’zab Ghardaïa, Berriane,
Guerrara, Zelfana
26/140 Tamezouaret, Tanaguarout, Tanetboucht, Tawragha, Tazerzayt, Tazizawt, Timdjouhart,
Timedwel, Tinnaser, Tissibi, Adham Bent Q’bala, Ajujil, Baydir, Bent Q’bala, Bouarous,
Chikh, Degla Beida, Deglet Noor, Gachouch, Ghars, Naser Ou Salah, Oucht, Sab’a Bedraa,
Taddela (El Dala), Tademamt, Tafezwin, Taqerbucht (Akerbouch)
West Touat Adrar, Timimoun 8/190 Bamekhlouf, Feggus, Hmira, Ouarglia, Taqerbucht, Takerbucht Beida, Takerbucht Hamra,
Taqerbucht Safra
Saoura Bechar, Béni
14/80 Adham Boula, Adham Tirnou, Adhamet El Rob, Cherka, Deglet Talmine, Feggus, Hmira,
Hartan, Kenta, Khomira, M’charet, Taqerbucht, Timliha, Tinnaser
Tidikelt 4/60 Tgazza, Taqerbucht, Cheddakh, Agaz
Source : Benkhalifa (1998), Selmani (2012, unpublished)
N. Bouguedoura et al.
Concerning carbohydrate compounds, studies were conducted on three date cvs.
from Ouargla, at tamar stage, representing the three classes of dates (soft, semidry,
dry) (Sayah and Ould Hadj 2010 ). Results showed a difference in the sugar content
from one cultivar to another. The semidry cultivars contained various sugars (reduc-
ing and nonreducing) with the dominance of reducing sugars. Soft cultivars are rich
Deglet Noor Taqerbucht Feggus
Utqbala Degla Beida Ghars
Litimat Tantbucht Tazerzait
Tafezwin Tadelet Timdjuhert
Fig. 4.6 Fruits of some Algerian date palm cultivars (Source: Bouguedoura – LRZA)
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
in total reducing sugars (glucose and fructose) the result of the transversion of
sucrose by invertase during maturation. Dry dates present a great amount of sucrose
which is responsible for their hard consistency after sugar crystallization.
4.7 Dates Production and Marketing
Many studies have shown that the date sector faces great diffi culties in its operations
and has not yet achieved its upstream and downstream objectives, although various
support policies have been implemented to benefi t the industry.
4.7.1 Practical Approaches
Studies of some Algerian date groves reveal that the date cultivation practices are
good in some regions such as the Zibans (Benziouche and Chehat 2010 ). However,
practices occasionally fall below the standards recommended with regard several
operations. Indeed, the degree of compliance with standards varies from one region
to another, from one operation to another, from one plot to another within the same
property, and even from one palm to another in the same plot.
No particular solution applies fully and appropriately to this situation. Despite
the fact that certain operations are economically and technically important, they are
not performed or, if they are, performed very poorly in an unskilled manner without
regard for the ideal suggested time frame for the operations (Benziouche 2006 ). As
a result, they have no positive effects on the technical and economic performance in
terms of the quantity and the quality of date production.
4.7.2 Optimization of Yield
Analysis of the production structure by cultivar shows that the lion’s share of pro-
duction is dominated by cv. Deglet Noor (nearly 49 %), followed by Degla Beida
with 32.50 %, while Ghars and similar cultivars accounted in 2011 for 18.5 % of the
total production.
Higher yields recorded during the period of analysis (1990–2011) are signifi cant,
from 33 kg/palm increasing to over 50 kg/date palm in 2011 (Fig. 4.7 ). However,
these average yields remain very low and less than the expected 70 q/ha, compared
to standard levels of 95 q/ha registered in the USA and 60 q/ha in Tunisia.
At the national level, the best average yields per palm are recorded in the oases
of El Oued and Biskra with 61 kg/tree, but they do not exceed 29 kg/tree in the oases
of southwest and 37 kg/tree in the south-center. However, the best producers realize
up to 150 kg/tree in Tolga with cv. Deglet Noor.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
The analysis of per cultivar yield shows that the highest average value is recorded
by the Deglet Noor cv. with 60 kg/date palm. Other common cultivars including
Ghars do not exceed 39–50 kg/date palm. Crop management, agroclimatic
conditions, planting density, age of the palms, and other constraints are the major
reasons for these differences (Benziouche and Chehat 2010 ). Nearly 78 % of
increased national yield of date palms results from the actions of PNDA to improve
the knowledge and technical aspects of cultivation.
4.7.3 Harvest Mechanization
As with the other transactions that fall within the technical process of date palm cul-
tivation, date harvest throughout Algeria is strictly traditional, and no mechanization
is reported except for a few attempts made in the palm groves of D’haouia in Oued
Souf between 1998 and 2000. Unfortunately, this attempt to modernize the harvest
failed due to mechanical constraints of two sophisticated machines and not taking
into account the local topography. Thus, the methods of picking are homogeneous
for all farmers, except for some differences which depend on various factors related
to the cultivar, climate, and business requirements (Benziouche
2006 ). Despite the
fact that mechanical harvesting is done in other countries, Algerian farmers are skep-
tical and suspicious of it, and hence, they do not view it as a credible alternative.
Benziouche and Chehat ( 2010 ) consider that farm unit fragmentation also
impedes the possibility of mechanization because it becomes impractical on micro-
plots making any development, intensifi cation, and investment ineffi cient and dif-
cult to undertake.
All these obstacles to mechanization leave it to manual operations to complete
the harvest on time, and especially to avoid any risks related to climate conditions
during harvest, disease outbreaks, and price fl uctuations (Benziouche 2012 ). These
traditional techniques have many adverse effects, especially the shortfall due to the
high rate of fruit loss.
Yield (kg/palm)
Fig. 4.7 Evolution of the average yield of date palms in Algeria during the period 1990–2011
(Source: Benziouche (
2012 ) )
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
4.7.4 Postharvest Operations
In the Saharan regions of Algeria, date fruit sorting is homogeneous among all pro-
ducers with the operation accomplished through traditional means. No moderniza-
tion of the sorting is practiced. After harvesting and transporting the fruits to sheds
in plastic crates, dates are sorted into different categories of maturity to create
homogeneous lots. Sorters usually stand or squat around a large screen (1 or 2 m)
xed on iron legs 1 m in height. These screens are used to remove all the objects that
are smaller than the fruit. Every worker has before him or her empty cases equal in
number to categories being sorted and into which the fruits are placed (Benziouche
2012 ). Sorting follows commercial practices and standards imposed by the purchas-
ers. It is almost always done under very rustic and primitive conditions. Therefore,
it is common to fi nd on the market poorly sorted nonhomogeneous dates.
However, date sorting is more or less well done depending on the cultivar, capac-
ity, and type of producers. Indeed, for the cv. Deglet Noor, some farmers are able to
distinguish 10 categories. In the region of Zibans, major producers distinguish 7
categories while small producers differentiate 4–5 categories. Previously, farmers of
El Oued region separated 16 different categories (Emil 1934 ). Sorting Deglet Noor
fruits, the dominant cultivar in the majority of date palm regions of Algeria (Zibans,
Oued Souf, Oued Righ, M’zab, Ouargla), is in descending order of scale according
to their degree of maturity: martoba (very soft Deglet Noor, good quality), fraza
(dry Deglet Noor, dates not marketed), bser (dates not mature enough), and hchef
(dry dates, without seeds due to abnormal fertilization) (Belguedj 2004 ).
4.7.5 Marketing Status and Research
Marketing Status
Date marketing in Algeria is not very successful and fails to meet the preferences
and expectations with regard to the existing means and reforms of the institutions
responsible for the promotion of this sector. The date market in Algeria is clearly
segmented, and each segment is justifi able for a particular approach in terms of
marketing mix. Indeed, analysis shows that the Algerian dates are known and do not
need improvement, but merely effective treatment against pests and diseases and
reliable classifi cation to satisfy world consumers.
In Algeria, date fruit is perceived as a generic product although each cultivar has
specifi c characteristics making it suitable for a particular purpose or market. This is
not the case for most of the dates to be found on the various national markets.
For packaging, one of the most important elements of marketing, at the national
level, there are two types of presentation: bulk or packaged dates. Nearly 90 % of
the dates are mostly sold loose. In this market, there are many types of cartons of
different shapes, qualities, and weight, from 250 g to 10 kg. Marketing to gain a
N. Bouguedoura et al.
niche with European consumers, where date consumption has a hedonistic dimen-
sion, some processing units use fancy packaging to differentiate the requirements of
For advertising and promotion, and with a view to develop the export of dates,
Algeria has established several approaches. However, they are not used effectively
and are not well attuned to the international economic date commerce. For example,
there is not an Algerian airline magazine in which to promote dates, although such
magazines have proven their value in countries like Tunisia. Also benefi cial are any
advertising spots on ethnic radio programs for the Muslim communities in Europe.
The lone technique that is experiencing a boom in recent years is Internet advertis-
ing which has become a more and more essential means of communication. Some
exporters and packaging facilities have begun to use the Internet for advertising and
e-commerce of Algerian dates.
The other method used to promote Algerian dates is through participation in
national and international fairs and exhibitions. These events represent a real oppor-
tunity to make contacts with customers. Thanks to subsidies from the National
Agency for the Promotion of Foreign Trade (ALGEX), exporters have participated
in these fairs with many benefi cial results. Increased exports are due to recent par-
ticipation in trade fairs.
Research Status
As a result of Algerian reforms, new institutions have been established and others
restructured. Research on Saharan agriculture is currently the responsibility of sev-
eral research institutions of different disciplines, namely, LRZA, research stations
of INRAA in Touggourt and Biskra, and regional stations of the National Institute
of Plant Protection (INPV) in Biskra and Ghardaïa. Much of this research is sup-
ported by the Technical Institute of Saharan Agricultural Development (ITDAS),
headquartered in Biskra, and two regional stations in El Arfi ane and Ouargla. In
1994, a new research center was established, the Centre of Scientifi c and Technical
Research in the Dry Areas (CRSTRA), with headquarters in Biskra.
However, despite these encouraging investments, there is currently a lack of
research on practical issues such as technical requirements of date palm irrigation
amounts specifi c to local climatic and soil conditions. Several objectives were
assigned to different research institutions in Saharan agronomy in order to promote
the effectiveness of the research and development of applied research. This research
is mainly focused on improving the technical and economic performance of the date
sector, identifi cation of water-conserving irrigation systems, protection against
pests and diseases, improvement of crop management, and mechanization of date
palm farming operations. However, according to Ababsa (
2001 ), it seems that the
reforms and policies implemented so far have not led to major improvements.
Indeed, little attention is paid to other equally important disciplines for this under-
taking, including socioeconomics.
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
The present situation is characterized by the absence of a coherent research pro-
gram and the inability and ineffi ciency of some researchers in solving practical fi eld
problems experienced by farmers. This situation is explained to a large extent by the
technical, economic, political, and social constraints. In addition, research results
are often valued by neither policy makers nor farmers, due to the ineffi ciency of the
current extension service system and the disconnection which exists among the key
trilogy of training, research, and extension.
4.7.6 Current Date Imports and Exports
Despite the increase in production, the growth of date exports from 1990 to 2011
(Fig. 4.8 ) shows that Algeria exported only 12,743 mt per year, on average, during
that time period, with a maximum of 26,000 mt in 2011 and a minimum of 3,763 mt
in 1994. This data series is characterized by fl uctuations, but the quantity of exports
increased during the most recent season, 2012/2013.
The average value of Algerian date exports was USD 27,660 million in the same
period. This value varies between a minimum of USD 10,440 million in 2001 and a
maximum of USD 79,120 million in 1995. Statistics confi rm a general upward trend
of value due in part to rising prices.
The integration rate (expressed as the ratio between the quantity of dates exported
and the quantity produced in the same period) has a clear trend during the period
1990–2011, from 4.19 % in 1990 to 6 % in 2011. The average of this ratio through-
out the period is estimated at 3.52 %.
Algeria exports mainly the Deglet Noor cv. and small amounts of other fresh
dates such as cv. Tafezwin. Deglet Noor cultivar continues to dominate with 86 % of
the average quantities of dates exported between 1996 and 2011 and accounting for
Export quantity of dates (ton)
Fig. 4.8 Evolution of the quantities of dates exported during the period 1990–2011 (mt) (Source:
Benziouche (
2012 ) )
N. Bouguedoura et al.
nearly 94 % in terms of value. Regarding soft dates, two categories dominate: Ghars
cv. fruit and date paste with a total of 12 % of exports in volume during this period.
The remainder consists of dry and similar cvs., e.g., Degla Beida and Mech Degla,
which represent only 2 % of the export volume. Most of these exports are principally
intended for the European Union accounting for 94.82 % of Algeria’s exports of dates in
value and 95.46 % in quantity exported in 2011. In the EU, France is the largest importer
with 77 % of the quantity and 80 % of the value of date exports between 2000 and 2011,
due to the lack of efforts to diversify exports to other markets. Algeria occupied seventh
place with 3.12 % of the average global exports of dates during the period 1990–2010.
4.8 Processing and Novel Products
4.8.1 Industrial Processing Activities
In Algeria, there is little processing at the industrial or semi-industrial scale for
secondary or by-products from the date palm. There is almost a total lack of produc-
tion of fi nished products based on date fruits, such as jam, juice, and vinegar; exist-
ing technology allows for the production of Ghars date paste, a secondary activity
of processing dates. There are ten processing units of this product line. New units
have recently begun the manufacture of pulp as exclusive activity.
Fruits are pitted, crushed, grounded, and pressed into 1 kg lots that are packed in
cellophane and placed in a cardboard box. The product is intended for the local
market or for export to France and Canada, where the Muslim community is the
main consumer, especially for religious occasions and for the period of Ramadan
(Belguedj 2004 ). Some processors use a certain type of packaging to export pitted
and stuffed Deglet Noor dates.
In addition, some farmers extract certain products by traditional means from fruit
and by-products, such as honey or jam; these derivatives are generally intended for
household consumption. However, there are intentions expressed by operators in
new products, namely, the production of ethanol, fl our, dates, and vinegar.
Insuffi cient knowledge of appropriate technologies, lack of a potential market, high
cost of this operation, lack of coordination between research and industry, satisfac-
tion of producers who benefi t from the trade of this untreated fruit, and fi nancial
question are the main impeding factors. Indeed, by-products are neglected and of
low commercial value while they could be an additional source of income for both
the date palm farmers and processors.
To improve its export qualitatively and quantitatively, Algeria was among the
rst date-producing countries in the world to be interested in packaging techniques
and to develop an important infrastructure for packaging. Historically, Algerian
date packaging was done in Marseille, France, and tradesmen in that city opened
offi ces in Algeria in the early years of independence, i.e., since the 1960s. Currently,
Algeria has decided to take advantage of technological advances in processing and
packing with the launch of a major investment program.
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
There were seven facilities which were created during the period of agrarian
reform located in the key date production areas of the country, namely Biskra,
Mghaier, Jamaa, El Oued, Tolga, Touggourt, and Ouargla. The theoretical capacity
of these seven processing facilities is 28,000 mt per year. Each facility had at its
inception fumigation chambers, sorting lines, ovens for heat treatment, packaging
lines, and refrigerated warehouses.
The management of these facilities was initially the responsibility of the Offi ce
of Fruits and Vegetables (OFLA) and the National Offi ce of Dates (OND) estab-
lished in 1971. Management is now in the hands of private companies in the form of
Companies for Action (SPA).
Following economic reforms, many private factories were constructed for date pack-
aging, with different capacities and technical levels, such as the Date Packaging Company
of Biskra (SOCODAT). But, especially since 2000, the industrial sector has undergone
profound changes under the National Agricultural Development Plan (PNDA). This pro-
gram also has encouraged the maintenance and modernization of old processing facili-
ties, increased the storage capacity, and created new private factories (Benziouche
2012 ).
Since the restructuring of date processing, the packaging sector now also oper-
ates an industrial factory serving about 35 private processing factories with different
capacities. However, the majority of these facilities are poorly designed and do not
meet industry standards. Although the capacity of processing and packaging of
dates has more than doubled over the last decade, it is still insuffi cient and charac-
terized by an uneven geographic distribution. There is a high concentration of facili-
ties in southeastern Algeria such as Biskra, which has 29 private factories, while in
the southwest region, there is no modern packaging factory (Benziouche 2012 ).
4.8.2 Survey of Commercial Date Processers
The demand for dates in Algeria varies from one region to another depending on the
cultivar, how the fruits are sorted, and the type of packaging used. In this regard,
Deglet Noor fruit left on the strand is very popular with residents of Algeria’s cen-
tral coast, i.e., Algiers, Boumerdes, and Tipaza, and for export. While the category
martoba (very soft Deglet Noor) is more appreciated in the west of the country
(Oran), the fraza (very dry Deglet Noor) is in demand by traders from the highlands
of eastern region especially during winter.
Biskra traders are interested in any category of Deglet Noor requested by export-
ers and by many packaging factories in that province. In addition, Ghars cv. fruit is
usually packaged in goatskin or textile bags (Benziouche 2007 ) or processed into a
pulp in some packaging factories and is requested by all regions of the country
because of its wide use in confectionery (Benziouche 2012 ). Degla Beida cv. is in
high demand by traders in Touggourt, Tamanrasset, Ouargla, Adrar, and Illizi, and it
is exported to sub-Saharan African countries as part of a barter economy (Benziouche
2012 ). For date by-products such as honey, vinegar, fl our, and jam, small amounts
are to be found in local markets in areas of date palm growing (Benziouche 2012 ).
N. Bouguedoura et al.
4.8.3 Secondary Metabolites
Research has been done on the secondary metabolites in some date cultivars grown
in Algeria, but the results are at the laboratory-research stage. One of the fi rst stud-
ies by Gaceb and Rahmania ( 2013 ) investigated the bioactive natural compounds
from date palm leaves, for the purpose of enhancement of the species and the sub-
sequent industrial use of the molecules identifi ed. They have identifi ed new natural
substances in the date palm including two steroidal saponins, diosgenin and yamo-
genin acetate, and saponins with a Spirostane core. In addition, the research showed,
for the fi rst time, the presence of a tetracyclic triterpene saponin. Other research
focused on date fruit fi ber and its phenolic compounds (Benchabane et al. 2013 ).
The role of the fraction bers focused on their effects in human disease and diabetes
control. Some results show that the content of phenolic compounds differs from one
cultivar to another.
4.8.4 Bioenergy
The goal of bioenergy technology is to recycle waste, utilizing it as fuel to produce
energy and provide a partial alternative to nonrenewable fossil fuels. This is a rela-
tively new area of research at the global level; in Algeria, it is under development on
an experimental basis (Aziza et al. 2008 ). Several pilot projects are planned in
Algeria, such as the Center for the Development of Renewable Energies (CDER)
project studying methane recovery from cull dates and fruit processing of by-
products. The proposed project involves the development of a method of treatment
and extraction of bioethanol or fuel after fermenting date juice. This process creates
a considerable amount of waste of a different nature, lignocellulosic and oilseed sac-
charase (Houari
2012 ). Trials are being conducted within the framework of National
Research Projects (PNR) for the production of organic, renewable, and clean energy
while promoting some cultivars of low market value, so as to avoid genetic erosion of
Algeria’s heritage date palm germplasm pool (Houari 2012 ). Thus, a project is being
implemented in Biskra as the fi rst facility to manufacture Nakhoil, a nonpolluting
date-based ethanol. According to Bousdira ( 2010 ), the biomass from date palm culti-
vation reveals a very interesting energy potential on the national scale; these numbers
would reach, respectively, for wood and dates, 658,108 and 1,176,285 MWh.
4.9 Conclusions and Recommendations
In Algeria, date palm cultivation has existed for many centuries (the foggaras irriga-
tion system since before the sixth century). Date palm growing has advanced since
the colonial period with a signifi cant increase in the number of date palms and
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
gardens. In recent years, the date palm sector has been marked by strong momentum
and a signifi cant rise in production. This increase is due to various agricultural
development programs launched by the government, as well as monitoring of date
palm grove health and preventive treatment for several diseases that affect the
palms. However, participation of the date sector in terms of Algerian exports
remains meager and benign. Concerning the Deglet Noor cultivar, which is very
popular in global markets, efforts should be made to establish a better international
market position.
It is clear that cultivation techniques have not improved because the benefi ts of
adopting industry’s best practices have not been publicized and agricultural products
are hard to obtain and costly. New farms are not properly applying appropriate techni-
cal practices in irrigation, pruning, pollination, thinning, and insect/disease control.
The main socioeconomic constraint hindering the development of the sector is the
social phenomenon of date palm grove abandonment because of aging farmers and
lack of interest by their heirs to continue date production. This trend is particularly
serious in the case of small farms where there are several sons, indivisible land owner-
ship, and disagreement among heirs. Absentee landlords of low productivity date
groves are an added negative factor. These circumstances make it diffi cult to increase
production and investment on small landholdings. Another impediment is the advanced
age of a large proportion of the producing date palms; 13 % of them are above 80 years
and another 19.6 % are close to that age (Benziouche and Cheriet
2012 ).
Algerian date palm cultivation is constrained by the substandard level of crop
management, lack of know-how of some farmers, low mechanization, water short-
ages, mismanagement in some groves, as well as a high number of users depending
upon a single borehole water source. In addition, lack of effort to rehabilitate tradi-
tional irrigation systems, occasional failure to adopt modern irrigation techniques,
and falling water tables due to overuse have forced some date producers to abandon
their investments.
The consequences of persistent drainage problems in some oases of the country
lead to declining economic returns and to a signifi cant shortfall. If these obstacles
can be overcome, it will be possible to improve the yield per date palm, currently
well below the potential for several Algerian cultivars.
Research stimulated by the outbreak of the deadly bayoud disease in the late
nineteenth century, and its spread in the twentieth and present centuries, has focused
on the knowledge of the date palm and on the organisms responsible for bayoud and
other diseases. This research has opened the way to the modern techniques of propa-
gation through tissue culture and its different aspects with respect to the fast and
high-volume propagation of interesting cultivars and also to creating new ones. The
objective of producing quality date palm plantlets has not yet achieved large-scale
application in Algeria, although there are foreign companies which produce them.
However, the availability of offshoots in Algeria is not a problem, and thus, tissue
culture remains mainly a research tool in university laboratories. It must be recog-
nized that these studies have yet not found wide application because of the organi-
zational structure of biotechnology research in Algeria.
N. Bouguedoura et al.
Molecular characterization of the main Algerian cultivars, of the approximately
1,000 known, is very good, thanks to the progress on date palm genetics by research-
ers in Qatar (Elmeer et al. 2011 ).
Since the appearance of the red palm weevil in neighboring countries, the import
of palms of any species is prohibited in Algeria. This action was taken to prevent
any penetration of this insect into the date gardens.
Final hindrances to developing the date palm section are the inadequate exten-
sion system, a lack of effective programs to improve and promote date growing, and
an absence of coordination on relevant subjects relative to training, research, and
agricultural recommendations.
In terms of recommendations, they can be addressed by a program that
addresses the production of all date cultivars, rehabilitates old and creates new
plantations, expands exports of Deglet Noor and promotes other cultivars with
high market value such as Degla Beida and Tafezwin, establishes processing facil-
ities near Ksour and other oases for local processing and packaging, modernizes
oasis farming techniques, and preserves and enhances date palm and other
Based on the subjects discussed, the following recommendations can be made:
(a) Adopt a comprehensive approach to integrated development, including reha-
bilitation of oases including those located some distance apart.
(b) Coordinate the actions of various actors in the date sector through a network
that will include date palm farmers, researchers, investors, and traders.
(c) Induce farmers to adopt good farming techniques for better yield and perfor-
mance and fi nd ways for farmers to implement the results of applicable research.
(d) Develop research in mechanization and its integration into the sector.
To promote and develop the date industry, special efforts should be made to:
(a) Encourage investors to establish factories by eliminating obstacles to invest-
ment in this area and solving marketing problems and productivity.
(b) Support research and innovation having an important role must encourage
applied research on the possibilities of transforming different parts of the date
palm with a view to establishing a transformation industry of by-products in
potential regions of date palm.
(c) Implement research results concerning the use of various tissue parts that make
the trunk and leaves which can be used in the manufacture of paper and com-
pressed wood from fi bers and petioles.
(d) Further expand efforts to promote the export of quality dates packaged under
Algerian brands. The economic organization of the sector is a prerequisite for
improving the market products.
(e) Continue efforts in the reform of institutions to promote exports to strengthen
partnership agreements.
(f) Intensify advertising campaigns.
(g) Create a database for the date sector.
4 Date Palm Status and Perspective in Algeria
Acknowledgments Our gratitude goes to Mrs. Samira Bouguedoura and Mr. Bouandel Aymen
for assisting in the English translation of the original French text and for their moral support. The
Association of Environmental Protection Beni Izguen (APEB) has made available several date
cultivars of the Ghardaïa region. The pictures that we took were used to prepare a portion of
4.5 . We express our gratitude for the assistance given.
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N. Bouguedoura et al.
... Due to its social and economic importance and environmental-related benefit, date palm is the most important permanent crop in Algeria, with approximately 18 million date palms cultivated on an area stretching over 169,380 ha. In fact, estimates of Algerian date exports were about 27,660 million USD, and Algeria ranked fourth worldwide in dates production in 2012 (Bouguedoura et al. 2015). Recently, the Ziban region has been a representative and an excellent example of date palm cultivation in Algeria (Mihi et al. 2019). ...
... In total, NDPT increased from about 0.5 million trees (586,336) in 1913, to reach more than three million trees (3,233,706) in 2013, which corresponds to an increase of 82% in NDPT. In terms of cultivated areas, date palm surface area expanded about 69% between 1913 (84.61 km 2 ) and 2013 with 269.48 km 2 (according to Bouguedoura et al. (2015), 1 ha = 120 date palm trees). ...
... In addition to the groundwater, two dams (Foum El Gherza in Seriana and Fountain of Gazelle in El Outaya) were intended to irrigate about 650,000 date palm trees in the Ziban region (Jaradat 2016). According to Bouguedoura et al. (2015), Deglet-Noor variety dominated in the study region with 49% of date palm cultivars cultivated. In reality, this variety has become the most commercial desert crop for its high socioeconomic benefits for local populations (Jaradat 2016). ...
Full-text available
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the most important income-generating crops cultivated in hot desert regions worldwide. This study aims at monitoring the change in numbers of date palm trees (NDPT) over the past 100 years (1913–2013) in desert oases of the Ziban region (NE Algeria). Natural breaks classification (Jenks method) was used to classify the 17 municipalities studied in the region into four classes: low, medium, high, and very high based on the NDPT for 1913 and 2013. NDPT had doubled six times between 1913 and 2013, rising to ~3 million of date palm trees. An irregular spatial distribution in NDPT was noted in the study area, where the municipalities of Sidi-Okba and Tolga recorded very high NDPT during the last ten decades. The present paper reports the potential application of natural breaks classification method for data discretization with good adaptability and high accuracy.
... The statistical data reveal that about 18 million date palm trees have been grown in different regions of the country on an area of 169,380 hectares with average annual produce of 500,000 metric tonnes of dates. Hence, the date palm crop serves as a backbone for the economy of the country especially for southern provinces (wilayates), where the economy is largely dependent on the cultivation, production and sale of the dates and their byproducts including date paste, date syrup, date flour, alcohol and vinegar (Bouguedoura et al., 2015;Anon., 2021: Harkat et al., 2022. Unfortunately, various biotic and abiotic factors damage the crop and cause huge economic losses annually. ...
Full-text available
The Oasis of Bou-Saada is gradually deteriorating due to the attack of insect pests such as white scale Parlatoria blanchardi Targ., the palm worm Myeloïs ceratoniae Zell and some fungal pests. In addition, polluted irrigation water coming from the wadi Bou-Saada has seriously damaged the oasis palm. Consequently, 23 promising date palm varieties are facing extinction. The Rehabilitation of the oasis palms of Bou-Saâda requires mass propagation of the endangered date palm varieties to conserve the fauna and the genotypes. The Tissue Culture technique is the only method through which date palm oases Bou-Saâda can be restored in a short period as compared to growing the trees through seeds or offshoots. As the first phase of conservation of the oases, this research project was initiated whereas propagation of two highly promising varieties Deglet-Nour and Mech-Degla was carried out through tissue culture technique on MS medium using various concentrations of three different hormones (AIB, GA3, 2,4-D) to obtain organogenesis. Results revealed that the growth in length of explants of the variety Deglet-Nour and its overall development was better as compared to the variety Mech-Degla with the AIB (2mg/l). The GA3 hormone performed the best in relation to the development of organogenesis in the two varieties followed by AIB hormone than the 2,4-D with overall mean lengths of 1.36, 1,26 and 0.84 centimetres, respectively. The formation of the callus was noticed only in the case of the variety Deglet-Nour.
... In reality, date palm crown play a key-role in creating a suitable microclimate for the cultivation of fruit trees, cereal crops, and vegetables. Further, Algeria ranks as the fourth largets date exporter worldwide with 27,660 million USD (789,357 million tons) profits during the year 2012 (Bouguedoura et al. 2015). ...
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Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-land cover classification system (LCCS) is one of the open access water productivity system products that is widely used in global mapping. In this study, we compared the performance of FAO-LCCS version 1.1 and version 1.2 (FAO-LCCS V. 1.1 and V. 1.2) images for monitoring and predicting LULC changes, mainly date palm plantation (DPP) pattern in Ziban region (Northeast Algeria). Three consecutive pairs of FAO-LCCS V. 1.1 and V. 1.2 images were used for monitoring LULC changes during the years 2009, 2012, and 2015. Decision tree algorithm classification was used to reclassify FAO-LCCS V. 1.1 and 1.2 images to five standard classes during the years 2009, 2012, and 2015. CA–Markov model was applied to simulate future DPP dynamics for the years 2018, 2021, 2024, 2027, and 2030. In case of FAO-LULC V. 1.2, there was no change in the five classes between all the studied years. In case of FAO-LULC V. 1.1, results revealed that from 2009 to 2012, 2012 to 2015, DPP cover increased with 0.44%, and ~ 1%, respectively, and it is expected to increase to 4.5% by 2030. For accuracy assessment, reclassification results and CA–Markov model were validated using kappa index statistics. More than 61% of overall accuracy was computed for each of the six FAO-LULC maps. CA–Markov model reached 88% of overall accuracy. The findings of this study showed reasonably good performance of the CA–Markov model. Besides. FOA-LCCS V. 1.1 data can be considered as an appropriate and useful data in studying LULC changes and vegetation growth at regional scale. These results represent a useful tool for limiting change land uses in the study area.
... Just before flowering, the inflorescence appears in the axis of the leaves, growing through the sheaths, and the sheaths crack longitudinally at anthesis. During flowering, farmers cut male spathes to obtain fresh flower spikelets for pollination (Reuveni, 1986;Bouguedoura et al., 2015). The pollen must be obtained when the first female spathes burst. ...
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Algeria, one of the potential date producers in the world, is exposed to the different impacts of global warming. This climatic phenomenon probably has repercussions on date palm cultivation. The main purpose of this contribution is to monitor the phenological stages of the date palm and calculate the thermal requirements for this plant, also the study of impacts temperature on date growth. The results obtained are compared with older data recorded in the same region. We recorded the temperatures of the air measured inside two palm groves in the wilaya (state) of Biskra, namely Zaouiet Ben Ouaar and Mangae Bougtaf. At the same time, weekly observations were made to follow the phenological stages of Deglet Nour during two agricultural seasons (2015-2017), at the level of these two palm groves; in order to highlight the relationship between air temperature and the growth of the cultivar date studied. The first results show that Deglet Nour, in Biskra, ripens after around 250 days from the date of appearance of female inflorescences, with thermal requirements that exceed 4000 °C. Air temperature is one of the limiting factors of date palm growth. It has a direct influence on the development of dates and on the quality and yield of this product. Phoenix dactylifera L. can withstand extreme temperatures, going from freezing to over 50 °C.
... The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is considered as one of the most important fruit crops in Algeria with more than 950 types of date palms classified according to the external quality of the date fruit in three categories: the palm produces soft dates, semi-soft dates and the dry ones (Biglari et al. 2008;Bouguedoura et al., 2015). Based on the FAO statistics (FAOSTAT) it is the world's fourth-largest producer of dates in 2018 with a total of more than 20 million date palms trees, which can produce about 720,000 tons of date palm petioles and leaves, and 210,000 tons of fruit bunches (Boumediri et al. 2017(Boumediri et al. , 2019. ...
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Nowadays, the choice of composite materials to manufacture medical orthopedic prostheses is largely accepted for its intrinsic resistance, ease of molding and machining, compatibility with human skin and also for economic aspects. Because of population aging and the need to repair broken or damaged human members, composite materials offer a very large variety of solutions to strongly satisfy such demands in the form of prostheses. These materials consist mainly of a consolidated resin reinforced with glass, carbon or natural fibers. Advantageous properties made them the most requested materials in the manufacturing of prosthetic devices for orthopedic use by people with movement disabilities. The present work considers a composite material made with carbon fibers, perlon (insulating layer) and an epoxy-based orthocyclic laminating resin. Both mechanical and morphological properties are analyzed. It is found that the composite made of carbon fibers/perlon/epoxy resin lower has lower mechanical resistance compared to carbon fiber/epoxy resin composite, but its adherence and its contact with human skin are ameliorated. For the fibrous reinforcements, carbon, glass or perlon, the mechanical properties on the proposed composite material (PVA- (C-4P-C) -PVA) are comparable to literature values. Based on uniaxial tensile tests, the elastic modulus is 626 MPa and the yield stress which is 57 MPa. Finally, SEM observations revealed that both composites exhibit similar damage mechanisms with higher intensity when perlon is present. This is due to the nature of the perlon in the composite material which exhibits more anisotropy. The main encountered damage mechanism is laminate decohesion which takes places between carbon plies and perlon. Such condition contributes to more interlaminar delamination and more brittleness of the material when subjected to high loads.
... The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is considered as one of the most important fruit crops in Algeria with more than 950 types of date palms classified according to the external quality of the date fruit in three categories: the palm produces soft dates, semi-soft dates and the dry ones (Biglari et al. 2008;Bouguedoura et al., 2015). Based on the FAO statistics (FAOSTAT) it is the world's fourth-largest producer of dates in 2018 with a total of more than 20 million date palms trees, which can produce about 720,000 tons of date palm petioles and leaves, and 210,000 tons of fruit bunches (Boumediri et al. 2017(Boumediri et al. , 2019. ...
The aim of this work is the isolation, identification, production, characterization and properties of biosurfactant producing fungal strain. The fungal strain FS11 was isolated from water oil field collected in southern Algeria and identified as Aspergillus sp. FS11. In an attempt to provide cost-effective carbon source for biosurfactants production, crude olive mill wastewater (OMW) was used as fermentative medium for 9 days under conditions of pH 5, temperature of 28 °C and agitation of 150 rpm. After cultivation period, the emulsification index value E24 reached 76% and ST reduction from 72 to 42 ± 0.20 mN/m. TLC and FTIR analysis of the crude extract, showed that crude biosurfactant was partially characterized as glycolipoprotein complex. The crude biosurfactant presented interesting properties such us; significant reduction in surface tension, important emulsifying activity and stability over a wide range of pH (2 to 12), temperature (4–100 °C) and salinity (1–10%). More interestingly, the produced biosurfactant, have proved great potential application in MEOR microbial enhanced oil recovery (removal rate greater than 50%).
... The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is considered as one of the most important fruit crops in Algeria with more than 950 types of date palms classified according to the external quality of the date fruit in three categories: the palm produces soft dates, semi-soft dates and the dry ones (Biglari et al. 2008;Bouguedoura et al., 2015). Based on the FAO statistics (FAOSTAT) it is the world's fourth-largest producer of dates in 2018 with a total of more than 20 million date palms trees, which can produce about 720,000 tons of date palm petioles and leaves, and 210,000 tons of fruit bunches (Boumediri et al. 2017(Boumediri et al. , 2019. ...
Algeria is the largest country in Africa by in terms of land area, which makes it contain large quantities of agricultural residues. The aim of this study is the valorisation of the huge amount of agricultural residue of date palm rachis available in Algeria to be used as reinforcement in bio-composite materials for various industrial applications. The analysis of the morphology of the of the date palm rachis cross-section allowed us to identify two main types of fibres according to their microstructure: vascular bundles and fibre strands. The chemical and molecular structure analysis of the date palm rachis fibres was examined by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The tensile properties of the fibre extracted were investigated under tensile loading test. The experimental results obtained for the tensile strength, Young’s modulus and strain at break of the fibres have been analysed, because of their dispersion, using three-parameter and two-parameter Weibull statistical laws. The tensile strength and Young’s modulus of the fibre strand were found to be about than four times higher than for the vascular bundle and their predicted model was determined. The tensile properties obtained for the investigated fibre were compared with other lignocelluloses fibres, existing in the literature, and it shows its great potential for use as reinforcement in bio-composite materials.
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As one of the oldest fruit trees of the Arabian peninsula, other Middle-Eastern countries, and also North Africa, the date palm ( Phoenix dactylifera L.), is highly significant for the economy of the region. Listed as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the date palm is believed to be the first tree cultivated by human beings, and was probably first harvested for its fruit nearly 7,000 years ago. Initial research efforts in date palm genetics focused on understanding the genetic diversity of date palm germplasm collections and its phylogenetic history, both important prerequisites for plant improvement. Despite various efforts, the center of origin of the date palm is still unclear, although genomic studies suggest two probable domestication events: one in the Middle East and the other in North Africa, with two separate gene pools. The current review covers studies related to omics analyses that have sought to decipher the present genetic diversity of the date palm. With advances and cost reductions in sequencing technologies, rapid progress has been made in the past few years in date palm genomics research. Along with organellar genomes, several reference genomes of the date palm are now available. In addition, several genotypes have been re-sequenced, either to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or to study domestication and identification of key genes/loci associated with important agronomic traits, such as sex, fruit color, and sugar composition. These genomics research progress has paved the way to perform fast-track and precise germplasm improvement processes in date palm. In this study, we review the advances made in the genetics and genomics of the date palm so as to strategize targeted crop improvement plans for marginal areas of the Middle Eastern peninsula, North Africa, and other parts of the world.
The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), an important agricultural crop in arid and semi-arid areas around the Mediterranean Sea, has high nutritional, cultural, and economic values. Date palm cultivation in Israel is practiced in the arid and hyper-arid Jordan and Arava Valleys and is associated with high water and nitrogen (N) fertilization inputs, with rates of up to ~170 m³ water and ~6 kg N per full-grown tree annually, on average. While the palm’s water needs and budget have been intensively studied, the fate of applied N has received little attention to date. Understanding this fate is especially important since high fertilization rates of ~740 kg N ha⁻¹ may have deleterious effects on the environment. Specifically, soil emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) and leaching of nitrate (NO3⁻) are of major concern, due to their impact on climate change and groundwater contamination. We have measured the effect of four levels of N fertigation (fertilization + irrigation), between 0 and 2.55 kg N tree⁻¹ yr⁻¹, on N2O and NO3⁻ fluxes during an annual growth season in a three-year-old date palm orchard located in Israel’s hyper-arid Arava Valley. We used static chambers for soil N2O flux estimations and measured drainage water NO3⁻ concentrations at a 60-cm depth, together with a Cl⁻ mass-balance-based water budget to estimate the NO3⁻ leaching. We observed trivial soil N2O emissions of up to ~0.02% of applied N, while NO3⁻ leaching was estimated to be as high as 36%. Dry areas between the trees, which did not receive any fertilization or irrigation, exhibited even lower N2O emissions than the irrigated areas. Inorganic N, however, accumulated during the dry months in the upper layer of the soil and was later lost at the onset of the winter rains. Our results provide the first-ever estimations of the potential environmental impact of date palm plantations in Israel and the Mediterranean Sea Basin.
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Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. albedinis is the causal agent of vascular wilt of date palm. Here, we report the genome assembly of the Foa 133 strain, which consists of 3,325 contigs with a total length of 56,228,901 bp, a GC content of 47.42%, an N 50 value of 131,587 bp, and 3,684 predicted genes.
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Date industry in Algeria is faced with many challenges due to the technical and social conditions of production. Our study aims to precisely identify these constraints through an analysis of the industry structure in the region of Ouadi Righ (South of Algeria). Our empirical work was conducted through a combination of two complementary methodological approaches: a questionnairebased survey carried out on 169 farms in the region and a series of interviews with leaders of agricultural institutions and financing organizations of the sector. Results allowed us to identify the main constraints. The most important ones are: structural, which refers to the owners who do not invest much money to renew and maintain palm trees; and institutional, resulting in a lack of technical, financial and organizational support to producers.
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The region of Ziban is a large palm growing region of the country. Either at the number of palm, or quality of production. The date palm is the linchpin of the oasis system. In the study we have done in some palm groves in the region to Tolga, through a field survey with 4% of farmers in the region, we found that the conduct of date palms in the oasis of the region, although the best nationally. it is sometimes very far from the standards recommended by the technical route specific to the culture in several operations. Indeed, the degree of compliance with these standards varies from one region to another, from one La Conduite du Palmier Dattier Dans les Palmeraies des Zibans (Algérie) Quelques éléments d'analyse 645 operation to another, even a palm grove to another and from one plot to another within the same property. The causes for the low efficiency and behind this situation are multiple and numerous, which are mostly technical and socioeconomic constraints. Consequently, the effects are negative and very significant on the technical and economic performance of this culture.
With the objective of a better infraspecific knowledge of Phoenix dactylifera L., flavonic glycosides considered as infraspecific markers were analysed on fifty individuals belonging to nine Algerian cultivars. By chromatographic analysis (HPLC) of the hydro-alcoolic extracts from the palms, fifteen genuine flavonic glycosides were observed, corresponding to the five aglycones we have previously identified. In the second time, these glycosides permitted to distinguish two sets of cultivated date palm: in the first, cultivars are well homogenous (Ahartane, Aghamu), in the second less or not (Deglet Nur, Takerbucht) ; the second set corresponds to cultivars submitted to active cultivation with phenotypical selection by date palm farmers.
Totipotent protoplasts are considered as a very important tool for plant genetic improvement. Protoplast were isolated from embryogenic calli in both 'Deglet nour' and 'Takerboucht' genotypes, calli were initiated from shoot apical tips of young offshoots of adult female trees growing in the field under natural conditions. Embryogenic calli were obtained from shoot apical tips of offshoots excised in small pieces cultured on solid medium with low concentrations of growth regulators. The calli formed were friable white and yellow nodular. The isolation of protoplasts was achieved by transferring the plant material in enzymatic solutions in the dark. The yield of protoplasts obtained was sufficient to initiate a protoplast culture. Generally, the number of protoplasts obtained was more than 1.5×10 6. The protoplasts were cultured in both liquid and nurse culture. In terms of cell division rate, cell division was induced in both liquid culture and on nurse culture, but the best culture system was the feeder layer. The dividing cells developed to microcalli, which developed to calli on modified Murashige and Skoog medium. Calli were picked up and transferred on regeneration media to initiate plant organs.