By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 26 October 2013:
The first ever Libya International Fair for Dates and Associated Industries opened today in Tripoli, with . . .[restrict]growers and sellers from around the country showcasing dates and date products.
The five-day fair features four halls, each dedicated to a particular date-growing region – Ghadames, Fezzan, Jufrah and Aluahat, many with local themes, decoration and costumes. Another hall houses date growers from other areas of the country, including in and around Tripoli. There over 50 Libyan companies exhibiting at the fair.
The fair is profile-raising the country’s date industry as one that has valuable export potential which could offer diversification from Libya’s hydrocarbon sector.
“We only sell inside Libya at present, mainly in Tripoli and Benghazi,” General Manager of the Alwaha factory for dates and products in Jalo, near Benghazi, Mohamed Moftah, told the Libya Herald. “Now we are trying to find ways of exporting but we know this is mainly about marketing.”
Moftah said that Alwaha could export worldwide but that the markets it were considering initially were Europe and Asia, adding: “Some people in China do not even know what dates are.” He said that the company was now focusing on improving its packaging and trying to make contacts for export cooperation. Moftah had hoped that the fair would provide these opportunities but said that, after the recent kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, many international companies had pulled out of the fair.
There are a wide variety of dates to sample at the fair as well as other products derived from dates, palms and even date stones. Bottles of syrup, pots of sugar and even kohl eye make-up made from date stones are on show. One stall was offering samples of lagmi, a drink extracted from young date palm trees. One tree can make up to 100 litres of this unusual-tasting beverage.
The Ghadames hall features a giant handmade date-cake which is believed to be the largest in the world. “We had a look on the internet and could not find any reports of larger cakes,” General National Congress Member from Ghadames, Abubaker Maddur, told the Libya Herald. “Maybe this one will make it into the Guinness Book of Records.”
The fair has been organised by the Libyan Export Promotion Centre and henceforth it will be an annual event.
The International Fair for Dates and Associated Industries is being held at Tripoli International Fairground on Omar Mukhtar Street. It is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm, with a short break for lunch around 2.30 pm, and will run from today, Saturday, until Wednesday 30 October.