Palmyra palm and Date palm are very common and familiar in Bangladesh. Commonly we know these as palm tree and date tree. These are the fruit bearing trees grown all over Bangladesh. Specially south and south western part of Bangladesh and northern and central part of Bangladesh these trees are very much available. There are huge numbers of date trees seen in the greater Jashore, Khulna, Faridpur, Kushtia and Rajshahi. Side by side the Palmyra is also available in those districts. Palmyra and date are also part of rural Bengali culture. Since time immemorial different kinds of sweet items are prepared in rural Bengal. Date juice and palm juice are very popular among the rural and suburban community in this part of the sub-continent. But the usefulness of these two fruits and juice are not in the projection of our national life. Every year different government departments /organizations arrange seminars on different fruits and its usefulness. But all those departments almost keep mum regarding these two fruits and its usefulness. We do not know whether the agriculture department has any project regarding promotion of these fruit bearing trees.
We know Palmyra palm and date palm trees and its fruits and juice have different uses. In rural marshy areas dinghy boat is necessary thing in rainy seasons. Fishermen use it in marshy areas and different water bodies for fishing. Dinghy boat is widely used in the districts of greater Faridpur, Jashore, Bagerhat, Narail, Natore and haor (large water body) areas of north-eastern part of Bangladesh. Most of the cases dinghy boats are mainly made of Palmyra palm tree trunk. Furthermore, Palmyra tree leaves are also the material of hand-fan. In the summer this sort of hand-fan has got a good popularity. Hand-fan is also the important component of our rural culture. Palm tree trunk is also used as pillar for house construction in countryside and it is generally very strong and durable. Palmyra palm tree is very much supporting for ecological balance in our country. Nowadays, it is very rare to get weaver birds in the countryside. But we get this kind of birds if there is any Palmyra palm tree. Palmyra palm is very much fond of by weaver birds. Weaver birds generally make their nests in leaves of Palmyra trees. Even the vultures consider Palmyra palm tree is the support of them. Usually they take rest on the leaves of Palmyra trees. In this way Palmyra palm is maintaining the balance of ecology of our country. Moreover, it can also reduce the damages of the lightning. For this reason government is considering to plant Palmyra palm in large scale throughout the country.
In this date palm case, it has also different uses. Dry date leaves are very good fuel and it is used in time of preparing gur (wet reddish raw sugar) from date juice. In Arab world, where plenty of date trees are in abundance, the date palm trunks are used as the raw materials of furniture. In Bangladesh this is not seen but we can make experiment for making light furniture by the date trunk and leaves. Date leaves sting is also used as useful instrument in different steps of making Murabba (a kind of sweets made of Pumpkin) and other items. In the countryside date palm juice has different uses for making various sweets, cake and other sweet items.
From the green Palmyra palm fruits people extract core of the seeds (soft seed flesh) and it is very popular among the young and teenagers. In the Bengali month of Boishakh and Jaishtha these are sold widely in bazars.
Juices and sauces extracted from ripened palm fruits are also very good items for producing cakes and different table items used as dessert. Palm juice extracted from palm trees is widely used for producing Gur and Patali (plated like gur). And it is used in the sweet shop for producing different kinds of sweet items in rural Bangladesh. Even palm fruit juice/sauces with puffed rice is very good table item for entreating guests at district and upazila towns and in rural Bangladesh.
Regarding date juice, Bengali young generation in countryside has many stories. Many of us have the experience of having date juice late at night without the knowledge of owners of the trees. Actually it has become a part of our culture in the countryside. The young people of the country area take it as an adventure and they willingly enjoy this sort of mission in the night of the winter. Different sweet items are produced from date juice and date gur. We can mention Sandesh of nolen gur prepared by the date juice. The dry‘Chitoi Pitha” turned as bhejano pitha by using date gur and date juice. In the Bengali months of Poush and Magh these sweets items are very popular among us. In this time many families visit their ancestral home area in the villages to take the essence of country life with their kids. This is happening in our country since time immemorial.
Furthermore, dates and palm fruits turn many people employed seasonally. A number of persons get short term employment in the early winter to late winter for date trees. This is the time of extracting date juice from the date trees. In this way a number of people get short term employment for these activities. From the economic point of view it has got some economic value also.
To popularize these two fruits, the appropriate authority should start intensive research on these fruits and fruit trees. We know we have plenty of date palm trees in our country. But the quality of dates in the country is not matched with the imported dates as the fleshy part of the dates of our country is very little. To improve the quality of native dates, intensive research is required. But the date juice produced in our country is of very high quality. Different items of sweets and cakes are made of this. So in this regard there have tremendous potentiality of branding and exporting of sweets and food items produce by date juice. In this way our native date palm will make space in the fruits and sweets market in the home and abroad.
On the other hand Palmyra palm fruits have also tremendous potentiality for branding. With the discussion in mind we came to know that everything of the Palmyra tree is useful and has some utility. We know the trunk of Palmyra is a very good material for making pillars of houses and making dinghy boats in rural areas. Its leaves are also the raw materials of hand-made fan in summer. Palmyra fruits are also the raw-materials of preparing different kinds of cakes and Taal Missri( a kind of stiff sugar)produced form the Palmyra juice has got medicinal value. At the same time Palmyra juice is also the raw material for different kinds of sweets. So the high-ups of the government, particularly in the agriculture ministry should underscore potentiality of these fruits and juice of the trees and in this way these two indigenous fruits and trees have great potential to contribute to our economy.