Keywords: biotechnology, date palm, micropropagation, Saudi Arabia, technology transfer, tissue culture
Date palm micropropagation in Saudi Arabia: policies and technology transfer
Saudi Arabia harbours one of the most important genetic centres of origin of date palm. Over the centuries this tree has been crucial for the survival of nomadic tribes in Saudi Arabia. Today, the fruits of this "tree-of-life" are highly valued as a local delicacy. Small plantlets purchased to replace non-productive palms and plantations infested with the red weevil, fetch high prices. This continuous demand has resulted in various Saudi public research initiatives to establish micropropagation protocols for the elite date palm varieties of Saudi Arabia. Together these institutes have succeeded in mastering the different elements necessary for the large-scale micropropagation of the date palm. Despite these efforts, it would take the input of a US company to transfer the technology for date palm micro-propagation in order to provide Saudi farmers with superior plantlets.