by Aly Jonas

Where do the best dates in Africa come from?

D’où viennent les meilleures dattes d’Afrique ?

Six African countries produce 40% of the world's dates. The fruit is very popular, and its cultivation in sub-Saharan Africa is developing. What are the 5 best dates in Africa?

Deglet Nour, Ftimi, Medjoul, the best dates in the world are grown in North Africa. Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya are the major producers. Dates are rich in sugars, mineral salts, fiber and vitamins. Date palm crops are also in vogue in Mali, Niger and Chad. Other African countries are trying to develop their own date palms due to high demand, especially Muslim African countries. Senegal, Morocco and Somalia, for example, import most of their dates despite being producing countries of the fruit.

However, when it comes to quality, a rivalry has arisen between major African producers. So much so that Egypt often buys thousands of Moroccan palm trees, in order to monopolize the market for certain strains.

For fitness enthusiasts, dates are also very rich in nutrients and low in fat. For 100 grams of Deglet Nour dates, we only consume 280 calories, for example. This will not be a criterion for this ranking however, we will only take into account taste and global demand. Note, however, that four of the five types of dates offered are part of the top 5 in the world!

5- Medina

As the name suggests, this date comes from Arabia, but it is grown in Somalia and Egypt. It is very sweet and its taste is not very pronounced. Medina is, however, very sweet, and its texture is soft. It is also very nutritious and rich in fiber.

4- Kenta

Kenta is a date intended for specific uses. It is in high demand by the cosmetics industry. During Ramadan, the Kenta is stuffed with butter or curd. Although some Muslim countries have tastier dates, they import Kenta for Ramadan. This type of dates is found mainly in western Libya, southern Egypt and southeast Tunisia.

3- Aligue

Also called “Ftimi”, for its hybrid character. The Aligue is dark and dry, its core is small. There are even coreless variants that are cultivated in Senegal and Mauritania. The countries of North Africa also cultivate it, but the best Aligue comes from Mauritania.

2- Medjool

Medjool, meaning “the unknown”, is a variety of dates from Morocco. It is larger and fleshier than other dates in the world, and its taste is unique. As much as other dates are differentiated by the accentuation of their flavor, none has that of Medjool, which resembles chestnut jam.

This species of dates was at risk of extermination. In 1872, Bayoud disease destroyed many date crops in the Cherifian kingdom. And more recently, from 2004, deforestation for palm wood and the export of female date palms threaten the existence of the plant. Over the last three years, American production of Medjoul has competed with Morocco. And although the Israelis often announce that the Medjool belongs to them, their production of these dates is microscopic. Additionally, Medjool only arrived in the Middle East a few years ago.

1- Deglet Nour

Date queens are often considered the best in the world. They originate from the Algerian desert. The name Deglet Nour – understand, date of lights, is due to its skin so translucent that the stone appears. It has firm skin and a soft texture.

Deglet Nour is produced mainly in two regions in Algeria and one region in Tunisia. In Algeria, it is found in Zibans and Oued Righ. In Tunisia, it is mainly in the governorate of Tozeur that we find this type of dates. Production is so great that the country was the leading exporter of dates in the world for several years.