ITC and ITFC launch project to support Saudi Arabia's dates industry

12 July 2017
ITC News
International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the International Trade Centre (ITC) announce new project to boost sustainable economic diversification and boost job creation in dates sector.
Geneva, July 2017: The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have signed an amendment to their partnership agreement for the implementation of Program for the Development of Dates Sector in Medina Region (PDDM). The signing took place on the side-lines of the Sixth Global Review of Aid for Trade at the WTO Headquarters, in Geneva between Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC, and Ms. Arancha González, Executive Director of ITC.

The objective of the project is to address the constraints at farmer, enterprise and institutional levels, to ensure full utilization of the dates’ sector potential in Saudi Arabia’s Medina and respond to increasing internal and external demand. To achieve this, ITC and ITFC will provide technical assistance to strengthen the capacities of both farmers and enterprises and assist them in improving and optimizing their value chains. The project will also help improve harvesting techniques, post-harvest services, warehousing and distribution. Training and coaching of producers, marketers and manufacturers, and preparing marketing and sales strategies will help achieve prices for dates.

Eng. Sonbol said: “This signing reflects our successful partnership with ITC, and with the great support and importance given by the Islamic Development Bank Group, together we will work towards improving the competitiveness and increase exports of the dates of Medina. This will generate better returns for farmers and create more jobs. The Kingdom produces about 1.2 million tons of dates annually, which has great potential to increase its exports and explore new export markets.”
To support economic diversification and to ensure better food security, the Government of Saudi Arabia is supporting the development and expansion of the agricultural sector, including the planting of palm dates trees. Part of the country’s New Development Strategy (NDS), the National Transformation Programme (NTP) that will be implemented during a five-year period (2016-2020) and will contribute to the long-term economic Vision 2030 Agenda.

Ms. González said: “This project will support sustainable economic diversification and help job creation by boosting the capacities and business know-how of dates enterprises in the Medina Region. With the ITFC we will not only improve market opportunities for Saudi enterprises in the dates sector, but also work towards ensuring more stable incomes for people working in the industry.”
This signing follows the signing in Medina in June of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, H.E Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Hamza Hajjar and the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madinah H.E Mr. Munir Mohammed Nasser bin Saad, under the Patronage of H.R.H. Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy Governor of Medina Region, to support the Chamber’s role in promoting the commercial and economic environment in the Medina region.

Since its founding in 2013, the Aid for Trade Initiative for the Arab States (AfTIAS) Program has strived to enhance the trade development in the Arab region, which still has the lowest level of intra-regional trade in the world despite preferential market conditions. Over the last two years, AfTIAS Program has worked hand in hand with its many partners, including the International Islamic Trade Financing Corporation (ITFC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), to accelerate the pace of trade reforms and enhance competitiveness in global and regional markets.