The project

The project “Improvement and valorisation of date palms” in the Al Jufrah Oases, in Libya, launched in May 2009, is funded by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Foreign Ministry and coordinated by the Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare in Florence, in collaboration with the Libyan Ministry of Agriculture.
The aim of the project is to support local economic development through actions benefiting quality date producers and protecting the agro-biodiversity of the region

Al Jufrah and its treasures

The Al Jufrah Oases are located in central-northern Libya. Over many centuries, these oases were the crossroads where the trans-Saharan caravan routes connecting the south to the Mediterranean coast met the trade routes linking east to west, along the 29th parallel.
There are still dozens of local varieties of dates cultivated in this region today; each variety has its specific features, capable of astounding even the most curious and highly sophisticated palates.

The most widespread varieties are:

  • Kathari
  • Saiedi
  • Bestian
  • Tagiat
  • Tasfert
  • Talis
  • Hamria
  • Abel
  • Halima

Dates: past and present

In the past, dates were the ideal staple food for desert crossings, providing energy for nomadic travellers and their animals, helping them withstand the terrible temperatures. Dates were also a precious commodity, bartered for the cereals grown along the coastland.
Today dates make for a perfect breakfast or a light snack; they also go splendidly well with cheese, especially the stronger varieties, such as goat cheese, gorgonzola or aged sheep cheese.
Dates are rich in sugars and fibres, but have a very low fat content. More importantly, they are very rich in mineral salts, making them ideal for athletes as a source of rapidly available energy in cases of fatigue or physical debilitation.

The Al Jufrah date producers sell the fresh fruit, untreated, or preserve their produce as pressed dates, or make syrup, vinegar or sweets out of them.
A sweet, thirst-quenching and highly nutritional juice – called lagbi – is made from the palm's sap. Lagbi can be caramelized.