Abu Dhabi: Eight winners, representing various countries in the region, have been chosen out of 131 regional and international participants for the third edition of the Khalifa International Date Palm Award (Kidpa), it was announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

The award was established in 2008 by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to highlight the role of the date palm and the efforts being made in various fields in this regard. The winners will be provided with certificates, trophies and prize money during the awards ceremony that will 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," Dr Abdul Ouahhad Zaid, Secretary General of Kidpa, said.

"In addition to the award, Kidpa also has many other initiatives, competitions and programmes that continue to raise awareness, which serve to highlight our role in the date palm field," he said.

Overall participation increased by 95 per cent from the previous edition, with participants competing in five categories: Distinguished Research and Studies, Best Development Project, Best New Technique, Distinguished Producers and Distinguished Figure in Date Palm Cultivation and Dates Production.

"We have seen a marked increase not only in interest but also in the diversity of proposals submitted for the award…however, this year, we withheld one award, the first prize for the Best New Techniques, because the judging committee felt that none of the proposals submitted merited a first prize," said Dr Helal Humaid Saeed Al Ka'abi, member of the Board of Trustees, Head of Administration and Financial Committee of Kidpa.

"This has also been done in previous sessions because our judging committee, which is made up of experts from around the world, wants to maintain the high standards and the quality of the award," he added.

Another topic that was discussed was the expansion of Kidpa's programmes and activities to include the filming of an international documentary about the date palm tree and the creation of a Date Palm complex that will house all activities related to the date palm in the country.

"In addition to these, Kipda will launch a book detailing past winners and their proposals for all participants. This is being done at the request of several participating countries in the region that the organising committee visited to not only raise awareness about the award but to also gather feedback that can be used to enhance it," Dr Zaid said.



Winners of the third edition of the Khalifa Date Palm Award

The first and second prize winners will receive Dh300,000 and Dh200,000 respectively, in addition to certificates and trophies.

First Category: Distinguished Research/Studies

First place: Date Palm Genom project by Ebrahim S. Al Msallem, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Second Place: Potential of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Technology for Date Palm, International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, UAE

Second Category: Distinguished Producers

First place: A model Date Palm production farm, Abdullah Mohammad Arar, of Jordan

Second Place: Tissue Culture Date Plantation in Kuwait, AbdulWahab Ali Naki Al Naki, from Kuwait.

Third Category: The Best New Technique

First Place withheld

Second place: A new detection machine for the red palm weevil, engineering authority of the Defence Ministry, Egypt

Fourth Category: The Best Development Project

First place: Modern collaborative commercial date palm plantation in the republic of Namibia, Al Dhahra Agriculture Company, UAE.

Second place: Date Palm development project in Oman, Agriculture and Fisheries Development Fund, Sultanate of Oman

Fifth Category: Distinguished figure

Bel Hassan Mohammad, Kingdom of Morocco.