Khan Khurma Bazaar, where dates shops were located in the city of Kirkuk, has lost most of its shops; some people now call it vegetable and fruits store.
In the past years, Khan Khurma, meaning the House of Dates, had over 60 dates shops, but currently there are only three shops left at the Bazaar.
“We cannot only sell dates because there is not a great demand on dates as before. And we have to pay rents and other expenses. That is why we are forced to also sell fruits and vegetable.” Abas Asghar said.
Asghar has for years opened his shop at the Bazaar. He told KirkukNow that he has heard that Khan Khurma was the local market where people exchanged goods in Kirkuk during the Othman Empire.
Monthly, 10 tons of dates are sold at Khan Khurma and the during the month of Ramadan and harvesting season, the rate sometimes jumps to 50 tons. The shopkeepers claim the demand on dates doubles during Ramadan.
Imad Sdiq, nick named Imad Khurma, has been selling dates at the House of Dates for 40 years.
“Three dates shops remain. Some other shops sell dates with fruits. The decrease of dates shops has changed the name of Khan Khurma Bazaar to fruit and vegetable store,” Sdiq said.
Sdiq explained that in the 1960s, there were 15 houses of dates and numerous shops and later more shops were opened.
The Bazaar did not only have shops but also house of dates, which was a tradition that people remained at the Bazaar and sold their dates, besides the shops.
A rocket hit Khan Khurma bazaar that resulted in the deaths and injuries of over 18 shopkeepers in 1984 when Iraq was at war with Iran.
Sdiq said that, “after the renovation of the Bazaar, the name was changed to Khan Khurma, and each shopkeeper is known for a specific fruit as I am known for dates.”
There are 151 different types of dates in Iraq. The price of the dates varies, ranging from 500 (45 cent) to seven thousand dinars (5.8 dollars).
Sdiq said that the greatest demand during this season is on Khastawi type of dates.
One kilo gram of Barhi dates is sold for four thousand IQD (3.3 dollars), Arzaq is sold for five thousand (4.1 dollars). One of the most expensive Iraqi date is Arshi, which is sold for seven thousand (5.83 dollars). It is grown in Khanaqin and Mandali in Diyala province.
Iraq has a fertile land and is suitable for the growth of dates as they grow in warm weather during summer.
Sdiq said that this year’s dates are yet to be harvested and the dates we sell are the those of last year, in which the production decreased by 25 percent due to a disease infected the palm dates.
People now buy less of imported dates and prefer local dates, Sdiq explained.