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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1235: VIII International Cherry Symposium

Cherry production in Afghanistan

Authors:   M.T. Mohtasebzada, T. Esumi
Keywords:   central Asia, sweet cherries, domestic consumption
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1235.19
Afghanistan is famous for the quality of its fruits and nuts, and for the many varieties that are unique to Afghanistan. Sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) is a new fruit species in Afghanistan. It is grown mainly in central Afghanistan, in addition to the provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, and Herat. Primarily, they are grown in home gardens and small family plantations, and less often in large plantations. The most common rootstocks are Colt, Mahaleb, Mazzard, and Gisela 5. Also prevalent are the cultivars ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Stella’, ‘Bing’, ‘Black Star’, ‘Blaze Star’, and other local cultivars. Twenty-eight cherry cultivars exist in the country, comprising 22 sweet cherry cultivars and six cultivars of sour cherry (Prunus cerasus), according to the National Collection Fields located at six different locations in Afghanistan (Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Jalalabad, Kabul, and Mazari Sharif). All local cultivars fall within the sour cherry category. The 22 foreign sweet cherry cultivars were imported from Italy and the USA, and added to the Afghan collection between 2009 and 2014 by the Perennial Horticulture Development Center (PHDC); a European Commission funded project. The harvest season starts from early June, and the fresh produce is consumed domestically. Cherry cultivation was common in Afghanistan 40 years ago. A 2003 report from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) listed the total area used for sweet and sour cherry cultivation in 1978 as 423 ha. This number decreased to 326 ha in 1996 due to war and drought. However, recent statistical data indicate that cherry cultivation has recovered rapidly, and covers nearly 2,000 ha of area. Lately, modern orchards have been established using new cultivars, rootstocks, and high-density cultivation systems. The total production is now estimated between 50 and 100 metric ton (MT), all for fresh domestic consumption, but because of the high demand from neighbouring countries, a successful export market can also be established.

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