Abu Dhabi: Among the fruit trees grown in Abu Dhabi emirate, 98 per cent were date palms in 2011. The remaining two per cent were other fruits, according to the Agricultural Land Uses, 2012, report issued by Statistics Centre, Abu Dhabi (Scad).

The report revealed that out of 752,839 donums (one donum is 1,000 square metres) representing the total area of plant holdings in the emirate, 39 per cent was cultivated with fruit trees.

The dominance of dates reflects their importance as a food crop and the favourable conditions prevailing in the emirate for the date palm. About 76,980 tons of dates were produced in 2011, an increase of 5.6 per cent from 2010.

The report includes the latest statistics on the uses of agricultural land in all regions of the emirate in 2011. The centre commended the full cooperation of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) for the data on which the report is based.

Field crops amounted to 24 per cent of the total area of plant holdings in Abu Dhabi.

Data from the report showed Abu Dhabi’s attempts to phase out Rhodes grass, a water intensive grass used as an animal feed, have not fully succeeded.

Rhodes grass accounted of 94 per cent of the total field crops in 2011 with alfalfa taking up 4 per cent, while barley, dry corn and other crops were grown on the remaining 2 per cent of the total area cultivated with field crops in 2011.

The 2011 field crops production was estimated at 1,503,841 tons, the bulk of which was Rhodes and alfalfa.

Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority had announced a plan to save millions of cubic metres of water annually by banning the cultivation of Rhodes in 2010. The move was significant as the government is concerned about “unplanned and uncontrolled ground water withdrawals” of more than two billion cubic metres annually, especially in the agriculture and forestry sector.

ADFCA had said that Rhodes grass consumed a whopping 24,000 cubic metres of water per hectare annually.

The Authority had revealed that there were 16,000 Rhodes grass farms in the emirate.

The report said in 2011 the area growing vegetables represented 2 per cent of the total area of plant holdings of which 1.4 per cent was grown on open ground and 0.6 per cent in greenhouses. Tomatoes occupied 53 per cent of the total area cultivated with vegetables, followed by onion (18 per cent), cucumber (8 per cent) and other vegetable crops (21 per cent).

There were 24,394 plant holdings marking an increase of 0.4 per cent compared with 2010.

According to Scad, most of the agricultural holdings are located in the Al Ain area, which is home to 11,985 agricultural holdings with a total area of 446,898 donums, representing 59 per cent of the total area of agricultural holdings. There were 8,572 holdings (210,458 donums) in Al Gharbia and 3,837 holdings (95,483 donums) in the Abu Dhabi region, constituting 28 per cent and 13 per cent of the total area of agricultural holdings in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, respectively.