Anjer Sia-e- Zanadah Jan
The Zandah Jan district in Herat province has been known throughout Afghanistan for the production of black Anjer for many decades. Traditionally, local farmers produce it in both fresh and dried form. Dried figs are served with tea in winter and most of the local population consumes this product as a sweet during traditional occasions such as Hashar, i.e. collective work, and in local winter sports such as tug-of-war. The black Anjer is only grown in the Zandah Jan district, which is considered a centre of black fig production; it has a good place in local and national markets compared to other types of figs.
It is a small tree, 1.5 to 2.5 metres tall, with broad, rough, aduche and lobed leaves. The fruits weigh between 25 and 40 grams and have a round, nut-like shape. The flesh is white, while the skin is thin and black. Fresh figs have a sweet, honeyed taste and a soft, firm texture, with visible seeds giving crunchiness, while dried figs have a sweet, honeyed taste and a relatively hard, slightly sticky texture. The seeds are clearly recognisable and give a crunchy texture. The whole fig is edible, from its thin skin to its white flesh and myriad small seeds.
Seedlings are planted in early March and propagate asexually. One year after planting, the fruit tree produces a first crop, but commercial cultivation begins three years after planting, with an average of 10-15 kilograms per year. Currently, the cultivated area covers between 1,000 and 1,500 hectares, with harvesting between July and August.
To begin the drying process, the ripe fruit is picked by hand and flattened. A hole is made in the centre of the fig, tied with a bamboo rope and hung in the sun to dry. This drying process prevents the fruit from spoiling and makes it available in the winter season. Local farmers have faced competition from hybrid fig varieties imported from neighbouring countries such as Iran and China. This has reduced the market for locally grown varieties and thus producers are losing interest in the production of black figs. It is therefore crucial to take concrete actions to prevent the loss of this product and the traditional collective work associated with its production and processing.
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