The company that could sell palm trees to a desert

You’ve heard about flogging wood to a forest and selling ice to Eskimos, but this must take the biscuit.

British firm has started exporting palm trees to the desert because there’s a growing demand for disease-free trees.

Date Palm Developments exports more than 140,000 plants a year to some of the hottest parts of the world, including Dubai, Egypt, Thailand and the Caribbean.

The company has already sent over two million palm trees to 35 countries such as Australia, Peru, South Africa, Nigeria and Haiti. And now it has won planning permission to double its 2,000 square metres of greenhouse space near Glastonbury, Somerset.

Managing director Avril Blackpool heads up the firm, and says much of their success is due to their method of growing which is much faster and less labour-intensive than traditional methods.

As well as decoration in countries such as Dubai, the palms are also used to harvest dates and the first crop will be ready after three or four years.

Ms Blackpool said: “Date palms have great cultural significance in the Arab world but we mainly supply to farmers who provide a food crop.”

The company has doubled its turnover in the last five years and will now invest £3.5 million extending its greenhouses.

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