Like last year, a campaign on social networks calls for the end of exports of Deglet Nour dates to Morocco. This time, the dates are accused of being radioactive.
It is undoubtedly the best of dates. Originally from the Algerian desert, the Deglet Nour - understand "date of lights" - is produced mainly in Algeria (in Zibans and Oued Righ) and in Tunisia (in the governorate of Tozeur). With a production, at the end of last year, which largely melted, endangering Tunisian agriculture, the Deglet Nour is today one of the most popular in the Maghreb world but also in Europe, where it is exported.
In Algeria, a true national symbol, the Deglet Nour is at the heart of a controversy involving Morocco. If Algeria is one of the five largest producers of dates in the world – in 2021, dates brought in more than 80 million dollars, according to the Algerian Ministry of Commerce – the kingdom has been, for several years, the second importer. of Algerian dates according to the Algerian press.
Deadly insects and radioactive residues
Yes but here it is. The question of stopping imports of Algerian dates into the kingdom is now being asked by the press. At the origin of this question, an article from the Algerian daily Echourouk. The journalist Belkacem Haouam asserted the possible end of exports from Deglet Nour. An article that follows a Moroccan mobilization dating from last March. At the time, as Ramadan approached, on social networks, Cherifian activists claimed that Algerian dates contained toxic substances, due to the radioactive pollution linked to French nuclear tests, in the 1960 years.
With each episode of tension between Algiers and Rabat, history repeats itself. A year earlier, after Moroccan date growers were expelled by Algerian authorities from the town of Figuig, while the border has been closed since 1994, social media claimed that Algerian dates were infested with "deadly insects ".
Journalist accused of lying
This time, the tension is at its peak between Morocco and Algeria. And the article in Echourouk shows that the campaign against Algerian dates has reached a milestone. In this article, the journalist Belkacem Haouam assures that several batches of dates have been recalled: one in June, the other in August. In question, according to him, pesticide residues that do not meet European standards. The newspaper then speaks of an immediate cessation of exports of Deglet Nour dates.
The journalist was arrested and imprisoned, accused of "illegal speculation" after the price of dates changed, following the article. A situation denounced by the corporation and by members of civil society.
On September 10, the Algerian Ministry of Commerce indicated that "pesticides used to fight against plant or animal pests in crops are approved and listed on the Index of phytosanitary products for agricultural use adopted by the National Intersectoral Approval Commission (Agriculture, Trade, Health…)” and that, during the next season, “thousands of tons of dates, all varieties combined, will be exported without any problem”.