Amrotcha is a native tree species in the Ghor province, especially in the Sagher district, where it grows wild in the mountain areas.
Ghor province is located in the central part of Afghanistan. It is a mountain province located at an altitude of 2230 metres above sea level. It has pleasant weather in summer with 18-20 0C during the night and 30-350C in the daytime. These climatic conditions are particularly suitable for the growth of pear trees (both wild and cultivated).
The pear is a deciduous, medium size tree, generally standing 4.5 to 10 m tall. The leaves are alternately arranged with green-coloured, simple ovals with serrated margins and slightly downy undersides. The flowers are white rarely tinted with a pink tinge that gradually fades. Fruit is a pome that matures in the middle of summer when the temperature reaches 30-35 °C. Fruits are greenish-yellow in colour. They are medium in size bigger than a peach and elliptical-shaped, the end of the fruit has a fur-covered depression. The skin of the fruit is not thick and is polished. The weight of one fruit is about 50 -75 grams and each tree produces an average of 10 – 20 kg per year.
This pear has a mild sweet taste in the middle of maturity and becomes sweeter when completely ripe. It is tender and fleshy, with a unique smell.
Farmers have traditionally propagated pear trees by grafting and mound layering, tough the most common technique is grafting.
In Afghanistan, the pears tree is commonly propagated by cuttings, grafting and rarely by seeds because the trees produced by seed do not bear fruit and need grafting. Amrotcha pear produces fruits from direct seeding after a long time (i.e. between 10-15 years). The seeds are cultivated in the month of March, are transplanted in the month of April, and after 3-4 years trees would produce fruit.
The pears are harvested during the month of August. Many communities traditionally store the pears inside wheat straw or covered with its branch in a cold and dry place inside their house.
These pears are traditionally used fresh, dry, or in the form of syrup and powder. In Ghor, it is regarded as the best variety for producing dry pears and syrup, which are produced mostly for home consumption.
To produce dried pears, farmers wash the fruits gently, cut them into thin pieces, place them in big wooden baskets and dry them indoors. This process takes 15 to 20 days. Once the fruits are completely dried, they are pounded and turned into a powder that is mixed with water and drank like syrup. Otherwise, the dried pieces of pear are boiled in water and drink as tea.
Amrotcha are a traditional element of the foodscapes of Sagher districts. This is the place where it originated and still, wild pear trees grow in the mountains.
This pear is high in iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium. Local communities believe that its consumption helps in strengthening nerves, and muscles, as well as in purifying the blood.
The pear tree has a long history in Afghanistan and its cultivation has been common for hundreds of years. Pear production in the country generates a huge income for gardeners. The planting of pears trees has occupied many gardeners who make a living on this work. Today the pears from Badakhshan province have a good place in the fruit markets in the country. On the contrary, Amrotcha is not collected for commercial purposes. Only the local people harvest this fruit and use it for their own consumption.
The cultivation of pears trees in Afghanistan has increasingly developed in the last decades. However, most farmers prefer hybrid varieties because of their high yields and short maturation period. In Ghor province, local communities are cutting the amrotcha trees to obtain wood for firing in the winter and replacing them with the other varieties like Kado Amrot, Amrot Zaraaty (Hybrid pear) and Morghaby Amrot. This has a negative impact on this native variety of pear which have traditionally covered a crucial role in the food culture of Ghor province inhabitants, being used for the production of syrup and tea.