Afghanistan Major Products
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Rugs/Carpet making in Afghanistan is a craft of great antiquity for which the country is justly famous. Before 1978 Afghanistan's Rugs/Carpets ranked fifth amongst the country's exports. Rich in form and color, the flat-woven, hand-knotted and felt creations woven by highly-skilled Turkmen, Uzbek, Hazara, Aimed, Kirghiz and Baluch craftsmen once represented the highest quality in Central Asia.
Daulatabad is a famous rug center just north of Maimana, and Shahkh, near Qaisar, to the west. In addition, one may often find good buys in other tribal Turkoman rugs such as the Mauri and the Qizil Ayak. They also display numbers of Donkey bags, bildow (narrow woven pieces used for yurt decorations) and namad, felt rugs. Ranging from black to grey, occasionally a prized white, namad are decorated with floral and geometric designs in bright, hot pink, yellow, orange, and white. When used as roffing for the yurts, the decorated side is turned toward the inside to enhance the colorful interior festooned with long strings of pompoms, woven bands, some narrow, some wide, all gayly exuberant.
Almost every walled compound in the suberbs of Maimana contains a yurt (prounonced ooy in Uzbaki) for summer living. The namad are made by specialists in the village of Wenchalat across the river from Maimana and are available in quanitity only on bazaar days when they may be purchased on almost any sidewalk and off the backs of numerous donkeys. Besides these various types of rugs the rug dealers also offer saddles and finely embroidered hats for sale.
Gilim are flat woven carpets that can be found as carpets, wall hangings and saddle bags (now also used as bicycle bags) they are very sturdy and are usually in a deep wine red with multicolored patterns. As with other weavings and carpets different qualities of manufacture and materials can be found.
The rug shops also offer a wide selection of Uzbak Gilim (woven rugs) which is a local specialty. The Uzbak Gilim from Kunduz is very fine and renowned throughout Afghanistan for their quality and designs.
Basically karakul sheep are raised in Russia and in South Africa today, Afghanistan karakul is recognized as being most superior in quality and therefore commands the highest price on the world market.
The North region of Afghanistan is the central collection point for these lambskins which form one of Afghanistan's principle export items. Shops selling karakul skins are situated on the bazaar street of most of the cities in the North Provinces.
Afghanistan produces exceptionally high quality fruits, notably grapes, pomegranates, apricots, berries, and plums. These fruits have traditionally been Afghanistan's main food exports
Afghanistan is well known for its grapes. In the 327 districts surveyed, grape growing is the primary fruit species being produced in the country, accounting for 48 percent of the total fruit-growing area. However, these figures fluctuate significantly from district to district. In most districts, grapes are not grown for commercial purposes, but mainly for family self-consumption.
The country has indigenous grape genetic resources of excellent quality that are cultivated almost everywhere. The core of the local varieties collection is in selected nucleus nurseries and research stations. The production of seedless grape varieties (called "kismish"), which are dried for the raisin export market, is still common, especially in the southern region.
In the case of green grapes production, there is usually a raisin-drying house in the centre of the vineyard. This structure is made out of mum bricks and has lattice curtain walls to allow adequate ventilation for the drying of the fruit. When the raisins are harvested, they are placed on bamboo trellises to dry inside the house. Those raisins that fall to the ground are taken outside and dried on the mud floor, becoming the red raisins that make up the bulk of the processed raisins exported. The traditional drying technique takes 60 days to produce a raisin. However, if the grapes were dipped in a solution of potassium carbonate, the drying time could be reduced to 8 days.
Afghanistan has proven favorable climatic conditions for the production of apple trees. Apples are still an important fruit in the country despite conditions limiting the domestic market. The more accessible areas and local markets have heavy competition from imported fruits from Iran and Pakistan. Nevertheless, cultivation is still widespread and mainly aimed at satisfying the small rural local markets and the farmers’ subsistence production. The current apple production in the country largely depends on the few exotic varieties imported 20 years ago.
The growing of apricots is oriented towards local varieties, which Afghan farmers traditionally consider more valuable than the imported (exotic) cultivars. The quality of these varieties is excellent; some even better than the Mediterranean commercial cultivars in terms of taste and resistance to pest and diseases.
Apricots are certainly one of the most promising fruit species with the highest future potential for development due to the farmers’ familiarity with their cultivation, the excellent quality of indigenous genetic resources, and easy to dry characteristics of their varieties. There is a good potential in increasing the value-added aspects of the product through improved production, processing and marketing practices.
Afghanistan can be considered the country of the pomegranate fruit, not only because of the traditional cultivation of this species, but also because of the excellent quality of the landraces grown. In fact, the local varieties grown in the main production area of Kandahar Province (4 032 jeribs or 806 ha) are known for their high quality and productivity. Farmers reported average yields ranging from about 1 720 kg/jerib (344/ha) in Dand District to more than 3 800 kg/jeribs (760 kg/ha) in Arghandab District. Farah Province is also well known for pomegranate production and the high quality of its fruits, as indicated in the targeted villages by the survey (1 097 jeribs or 219 ha). Pomegranate ranks second as its main fruit crop.
Although peaches can be easily grown in a number of districts, the development of commercial orchards remains limited due to its fragile and perishable nature that makes it difficult to market. The main provinces for peach production are Takhar and Ghor.