Environmentalist mission continues to increase greenery in Iraq through date plantation

Environmentalist mission continues to increase greenery in Iraq through date plantation

Bashir al-Masudi plants thousands of palm trees in 6 years through his ambitious 'dates instead of oil' project

By Haydar Karaalp

BABYLON, Iraq (AA) - Six years ago, Iraqi environmental activist Bashir al-Masudi embarked on a mission to transform his country’s landscape and increase greenery through his ambitious "dates instead of oil" project.

The project aimed not only to increase Iraq's greenery but also to reintroduce date production as a symbol of Iraq's heritage.

Masudi, who lives in Iraq's historic Babylon province, envisions a future in which Iraq, which has traditionally relied on oil revenue, thrives by capitalizing on its abundant date production.

Masudi told Anadolu that he is passionate about reviving the tradition of date tree cultivation in the country, which had been disrupted due to security concerns during the US occupation.

He emphasized the significance of diversifying Iraq's sources of income, advocating for the revival of the country's once-thriving date industry.

"Dates are the everlasting oil in Iraq," he asserted.

“We decided to develop an alternative project that can also be an economic source of revenue instead of oil,” he said, adding that as a result of research, dates could be a viable alternative to oil.

For nearly six years, he has been diligently planting palm trees, which have long been a symbol of Iraq's identity.

Masudi's commitment attracted a group of young enthusiasts who joined him in planting thousands of palm trees. Together, they have fostered the growth of palm tree culture by incorporating modern irrigation techniques and employing innovative methods.

Utilizing the power of social media, he created an informative platform on Facebook dedicated to palm tree propagation. The page created an online community of some 208,000 people.

As Masudi's project gained traction, he received support from environmentally conscious people outside of Iraq.

"Until 2015, the number of date trees in Iraq was very low. The palm trees, which used to be millions in the past, fell to 8,000 only.

"In recent years, with the help of modern agricultural techniques, there has been a significant increase in the number of date trees in Iraq. We believe that Iraq will once again rank among the world's countries with an abundance of dates," he said.

*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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