Abu Dhabi: Eight winners from various countries in the region have been chosen from 131 entrants for the third edition of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award (Kidpa), it was announced on Tuesday.

The award was started in 2008 by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to highlight the role of the date palm.

The winners will be provided with certificates, trophies and prize money at the awards ceremony to be held on March 15.

"Kidpa has set a precedent for international recognition of the date palm, reflecting the UAE's late president Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's passion for the date as an important feature in the culture and heritage of the UAE," said Dr Abdul Ouahhad Zaid, Secretary General of Kidpa.

Overall participation increased by 95 per cent over the previous year, authorities said.

Awards: First place winners

Distinguished Research/Studies: Date Palm Genome Project by Ebrahim S Al Msallem, Saudi Arabia; Distinguished Producers: A Model Date Palm Production Farm, Abdullah Mohammad Arar, Kingdom of Jordan; The Best Development Project: Modern Collaborative Commercial Date Palm Plantation in the Republic of Namibia, Al Dhahra Agriculture Company, UAE; Distinguished figure: Bel Hassan Mohammad. Morocco.