Pomegranate production in Afghanistan

Pomegranate production in Afghanistan

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Pomegranate production in Afghanistan is a significant contributor to the Afghan agricultural economy
Economy of Afghanistan
The economy of Afghanistan has improved significantly since 2002 due to the infusion of multi-billion dollars in international assistance and investments, as well as remittances from Afghan expats. It is also due to dramatic improvements in agricultural production and the end of a four-year drought...

. Pomegranate
Pomegranate
The pomegranate , Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.Native to the area of modern day Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to Asian areas such as the Caucasus as...

s are a major fruit crop in many provinces
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

 such as Kandahar
Kandahar Province
Kandahar or Qandahar is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandahar, which is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly...

, Helmand
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

, Wardak
Wardak Province
Maidan Wardak Province is one of thirty four provinces of Afghanistan located in the central east region of Afghanistan. It has a population of approximately 540,100. The capital of the province is Maidan Shar...

, Ghazni
Ghazni Province
Ghazni is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. Babur records in his Babur-Nama that Ghazni is also known as Zabulistan It is in the east of the country. Its capital is Ghazni City...

, Paktia
Paktia Province
Paktia , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the east of the country. Its capital is Gardez. The population is predominantly Pashtun.- History:...

, Farah
Farah Province
Farah is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Farah. Farah is a spacious and sparsely populated province that lies on the Iranian border...

, Kapisa
Kapisa Province
Kapisa is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Mahmud-i-Raqi, and other districts include Kohistan, Nijrab and Tagab. The population of Kapisa is estimated to be 364,900, although there has never been an official estimate...

 and Balkh
Balkh Province
Balkh is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country and its name derives from the ancient city of Balkh, near the modern town...

, and are the source of the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 is known as "the country of the pomegranate fruit" in view of not only its conventional methods of cultivation but also for the quality of the landrace
Landrace
A landrace is a local variety of a domesticated animal or plant species which has developed largely by natural processes, by adaptation to the natural and cultural environment in which it lives. It differs from a formal breed which has been bred deliberately to conform to a particular standard...

s grown.

History



Some leading botanists believe that Afghanistan is the cradle of world pomegranate production. Afghanistan has more varieties of pomegranate trees than anywhere else in the world.

Since the 1970s, political turmoil and wars have ravaged the country; this has had a serious effect on exporting the fruit to its biggest markets in Pakistan and India.

Recently there has been a re-emergence in the pomegranate industry in Afghanistan. In 2009, several hundred thousands pomegranate trees were planted and the nation exported some 50,000 tons of the fruit. In October 2009 a £6 million juice factory was constructed in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 to make juice concentrate from the fruit as it becomes more commercially viable; increasing demand on the world market has seen local market prices rise from 34p a kilogram to £1 a kilogram since 2009.

In 2010 the new Afghan-Pak Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA) was signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which permits Afghan traders to export local agricultural produce by road to Indian the markets via the Wagah
Wagah
Wagah is the only road border crossing between Pakistan and India , and lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Lahore, Pakistan and Amritsar, India. Wagah itself is a village through which the controversial Radcliffe Line was drawn. The village was divided by independence in 1947...

 border post.

In October 2010 it was reported that fighting in Kandahar province has had a serious effect on farms and livelihoods with farmers unable to work on their farms because of the war.

International demand


Some people have speculated that an increase in Afghan fruit production towards a more international market would be the best way to combat opium production in the country.
Gradually the international market for Afghan pomegranates is increasing with demand from overseas. In 2010, Afghanistan began exporting the fruit to the French firm Carrefour
Carrefour
Carrefour S.A. is an international hypermarket chain headquartered in Levallois-Perret, France. It is one of the largest hypermarket chains in the world...

 in Dubai
Dubai
Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates . The emirate is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second-largest land territory by area of all the emirates, after Abu Dhabi...

 and has created significant competition there amongst their Turkish and North African counterparts as the Afghan product is said to be larger, redder and juicier. Carrefour has also placed a demand for Afghan pomegranates in other stores in countries in the Middle East.

In March 2010 it was reported that British firm Pomegreat has signed a £3 million deal to buy pomegranate juice from Afghanistan with an Afghan company called Omaid Bahar which is operating the new fruit processing plant in Kabul. This company is the source of the livelihoods of some 50,000 Afghan farmers.

However, international demand for Afghan pomegranates is still in its infancy; the majority of the U.S. domestic supply for instance comes from the San Joaquin Valley
San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley is the area of the Central Valley of California that lies south of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta in Stockton...

, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Mexico.

Product


Pomegranates contain high levels of antioxidants, and protect cells from damage by compounds called free radicals. They are also reported to protect against certain types of cancer and lower blood pressure. Afghan pomegranates in comparison to the same fruit from other places are said to be larger (jumbo), sweeter and redder.
They are increasingly becoming consumed in Europe and North Africa as a health food and for its juicy, sweet taste. USAID has also described pomegranates grown in the northern Khulm River
Khulm River
The Khulm River is a river of northern-central Afghanistan. In its upper course, it passes through Khulm and Haybak, today in Balkh Province. The Khulm is a tributary to the Oxus basin. Its source is located to the north of the city of Khulm...

 basin in the north of the country to be "the finest in Afghanistan". Adam Pritchard, the Chief Executive of Pomegreat has described the Afghan pomegranate as "the best in the world" and Afghanistan as their "spiritual home". Its ranking among fruits grown in the country is reported to be second, the first being grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s.

Production


The main production area of pomegranates is in the Kandahar Province, where 806 ha of land are under pomegranate cultivation. Its production per ha of land was also very high in the Dand and Arghandab district
Arghandab District
Arghandab is a district in the central part of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. It borders Panjwai and Khakrez districts to the west, Shah Wali Kot District to the north and east and Kandahar District to the east and south....

s of the province with yield of 344 kg/ha and 760 kg/ha respectively. The variety of pomegranate grown in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

is known as the jumbo, ruby-red Kandahari variety, while the seedless variety is known as Badana, which is good for eating or converting into juices.

Annual fair


Because of its popularity and demand for exports, the World Pomegranate Fair is an annual event in Afghanistan. Such an event, which is the meeting place for producers, buyers, packaging, logistics, and cold storage technology companies, equipment vendors, international experts on pomegranate production and processing and government agencies, is the road show that will bring to fore "the Afghan pomegranate industry, create new business opportunities, and benefit the people of Afghanistan."

External links