Anjer Zard-e- Samagan
This fig plant is a small tree, from 1.80 metres to 2.5 metres high, with broad, rough, and deciduous leaves that are deeply lobed or sometimes nearly entire. Fruits are round in shape, weigh 30-45 gr and are bigger than a walnut. They are covered by a green, thin skin that turns yellow when the fruits are completely ripened. The flesh is reddish yellow in colour.
Fresh figs have a very sweet, honeyed taste and a soft, squishy texture studded with discernible seeds that give crunchiness.
Climate and soil of Samangan province make it very famous for the production of a fig variety, locally known as anjer zard (yellow fig).
The propagation of this crop is done by cutting. The cuttings are collected from one-year brushes, cut into 30-45cm-long pieces and sown at the end of February inside the nursery. Seedlings are planted in early March and are propagated through the asexual method. Yielding starts one year after the cultivation, however, fruit production for commercial purposes begins four years after the plantation.
Currently, the area under cultivation covers between 8000 and 10000 hectares. Harvesting takes place in August, and each plant yields 15 to 20 kg per year. The fruits are harvested by hand in the morning or evening. After harvesting, they can be sundried and stored for three to six months.
The entire fig is edible, from the thin skin to the flesh and the myriad of tiny seeds. Fruits can be also processed by drying them. To this end, after ripening, the figs are picked by hand and flattened while still fresh. They are pressed by index and thumb fingers, pierced in the middle of it, and then hung with cotton or bamboo strings in a suitable place and exposed to sunlight for 2-3 weeks. The drying process reduces the fresh fruits from spoiling and makes them available in the winter season. Also, some local producers have started processing fruit into jam using artisanal methods. However, they would require more training to improve and diversify the processing methods of yellow anjer.
The Samangan province is well known in all of Afghanistan for yellow anjer production. These fruits have been produced for many decades back in this province.
Traditionally, local farmers have consumed it in both fresh and dry forms. The dry figs are still eaten as sweet with tea in the winter. Local dwellers have used this product as an energetic sweet during traditional occasions such as HASHAR, i.e. collective work like cleaning of common canals, and in winter local sports like tug of war and Boz Kashy which is common in the north part of the country. For holding this game, which is part of the local community culture in Samangan, the local leaders collect dry figs and dry mulberries (Toot Maghz) from the families that are given as a gift to the winning team.
Since Samangan yellow anjer is famous for its excellent quality, figs are exported to other provinces of Afghanistan. Specifically, the yellow type of yellow Anjer (locally known as yellow gig) is cultivated only in the Samangan which is regarded as the most important centre for yellow fig production. This fig variety has a better place than other types of figs in local, national and, to a lesser extent, international markets.
The yellow anjer is also cultivated in other parts of Afghanistan like Kandahar, Farah, Kabul and Mazare Sharif province. However, the fruits produced in the Samangan province are preferred for their special sweetness and yellow colour. Despite this, local farmers have been facing competition from hybrid figs varieties imported from neighbouring countries like Iran and China. This has reduced the market for locally grown varieties and therefore, producers have been losing their interest in producing yellow figs. It is then crucial to take concrete actions to prevent the loss of this product and the traditional collective work associated with its production and processing. If the farmers received support in terms of machinery and training, it would be possible to expand the area of cultivation and add value to the product by improving the processing methods of the different processed products obtained from yellow anjer.