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Grapes production in Afghanistan

Ahmad Khasrow

Based in Nitra Slovakia, Ahmad is a postgraduate M.Sc.


Grapes and raisins are the productive horticultural crops of Afghanistan due to large area of plantation and the high value received from. Grapes in Afghanistan are mostly growing by traditional system called earth–trellised “Jui” system, freestanding head system, and now it’s practicing T and I (cordon) systems. Cultural practices and post-harvest processes are generally still traditional but a long ago ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and livestock of Afghanistan and other national and International organizations are working for improvement of not only grapes production but all agricultural products.


Goal of the study is to define the grapes, cultivation system of grapes (grapevine) in Afghanistan, its varieties, raisin production, and its economic impact in Afghanistan as a seminar work for the subject of special viticulture in Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra under the guidance of dear professor doc. Ing. Slavko Bernáth, PhD.

Grapes and its nutritional value: Grapes commonly known as grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is one of the old fruit crops belongs to the family of Vitaceae is a liana with flaky bark. (17) Grapes used as its raw form or used by making juice, jam, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed oil, raisins and grape syrup. (6-7, 17) Grapes contain different compounds having medicinal and health promoting affects. Grapes have antioxidant activity due to their phenolic content, they have shown good source of phenolic antioxidants (115 and 361 mg/kg of total phenolics). (12-13, 16)

National production: Growing area of grapes in Afghanistan is approximately about 78405 hectares (ha).(4) Which 90% of this growing area is located in the provinces of Qandahar, Helmand, northern and central zones, (Samadi, 2011) (15) Domestic production of grapes was estimated around 58,000 tons in 2009 which shows an increase of 12% since the 10 last years. (5) By 2003 the income of this product was counted 180 million American dollars (FAO report, 2003). In comparison with international production even though grapes are the most produced item among fruits and vegetables in the country, Afghanistan is a small scale producer of this product as compared to EU-27, providing 41% of global supply, China providing 12%, United States with 10% or Turkey providing 7% of total supply for 2009 (2009 FAO online).

Exports: Exports at a national level, exports of grapes have vigorously grown during the last decade, reaching 15.5 million USD in 2009. Grapes were the main item exported among fresh fruits and vegetables in 2009. Fresh fruits account for only 8% of total exports with grapes estimate approx. 4%. The main export partner is Pakistan, having imported 50.2 million USD in grapes during the decade and 97% of total exports. Exports have also occasionally flown to other regional countries such as India and to some countries of the European-Union. (11)

Short tips:

Mostly all grapes of Afghanistan belong to Vitis vinifera spp.

Yield per hectare was counted 8.5 tons (FAO, 2003)

Yield by earth–trellised “Jui” system is approximately 1.4-3 metric tons/ha.

Afghan grape growers, produce both raisins and fresh grapes from same vineyard.

Average price of grapes in Kabul approximately, 0.45 USD/kg (2009)

For high Quality Shondakhanai Raisin (specialty item) Indian consumers paid: $12.50 / kg. Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), 2004

Grapes (grapevine) varieties in Afghanistan:

Varieties uses for fresh grapes production: varieties of fresh grapes of Afghanistan mostly contain national varieties such as Hussaini, Lal, Kata, Gholadan, Taifi, red and green Raucha, Kasendra, red Kandahari. (Samadi, 2011) (15)

Varieties uses for raisin production: Varieties used for raisin production are mostly Shondakhanai and Keshmeshi (according to believe is the original variety counted as thompson seedless and sultanina), Mehr Amadi, black Keshmeshi, lal and etc. (Samadi, 2011) (15)

Due to a classification made by Afghanistan National Nursery Growers Organization (ANNGO, 2013) afghan grapes are grouped to below sub groups: (3)

Hussaini cultivars group; one of the commonly grown group of cultivars from central Afghanistan. The group matures in late August in Kandahar. Bunch is medium in size. Berry color is green-yellow and seed is well developed. The group has good fresh market in Kabul and other provinces and also exported to Pakistan.

Ayta cultivars group; one of the well-known cultivar grown in Herat and Kandahar provinces. The group matures at the end of August in Kandahar and Herat. The size of the bunch and berry is medium. The color of berry is green-yellow. Seed is well-developed. The group has good fresh and dry market.

Imported varieties group; the group consists of varieties imported from USA and the mother trees are grown in Laghman province. Some of the varieties in the group has impressive local and international market (flame seedless, Black emerald, red globe and ribier). Perlette is the earliest variety matures in mid-July in Kandahar while Crimson seedless matures in last week of September. The bunch and berry size are small to medium. Berry color varies for each variety.

Miscellaneous cultivars group; the group is miscellaneous cultivars. Roucha safid is the earliest local cultivar matures in late June. The bunch of Roucha is small and more compact also the size of berry is small. Keshmeshi sorkh is good for drying it matures late August. Its raisin has a good local market. Lal Katta Dana has medium bunch and berry size it has good fresh market. (ANNGO catalogue 2013-2014) (3)

Some of the grape varieties and its characteristics:

Source: Afghanistan National Nursery Growers’ Organization (ANNGO Catalogue 2012-2013, Kabul) (2) and some varieties had been taken from ANHDO catalogue which are referenced.

Hussaini 504:

(In situ passport data for accession number: 504)

Commonly grown group of cultivars from central Afghanistan.

Bunch is medium in size.

Berry color is green-yellow.

Seed is well developed.

Group has a good fresh market.

Flowering time 1st of May

Mature in late august.

 New Picture
Cheshmi Gao 237

Flowering time: 2nd to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 3rd week of July

Bunch size: small

Berry size: big

Berry color: green yellow

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 16 Brix

Overall: mid variety, very sweet, good for fresh market

 New Picture (1)
 Shondakhanai sra 391

Flowering time: 4th of April

Maturity time: N/A

Langtitude: 65 36 10

Source: (ANHDO) (1)



Raucha Sorkh 714:

Flowering time: 1st to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 4th week of June

Bunch size: small

Berry size: small Berry

color: dark red

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 16 Brix

Overall: one of the earlist variety, compact bunch, white Raucha is also available

Sahibi 240, 874

Flowering time: 1st to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 4th week of July

Bunch size: medium

Berry size: medium

Berry color: dark red

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 19/16 Brix

Overall: good for fresh consumption

Sahibi Spin 891

Flowering time: 2nd to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 4th week of June

Bunch size: medium

Berry size: medium

Berry color: green yellow

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 14 Brix

Overall: export quality, sweet and juicy

Shir Ahmadi 219

Flowering time: 1st to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 4th week of July

Bunch size: long

Berry size: medium

Berry color: green yellow

Seed presence: absent

Sugar Content: 18 Brix

Overall: recommended for fresh consumption and drying

Kandahari 236

Flowering time: 4th week of April

Ripening time: 3rd week of June

Bunch size: small

Berry size: medium

Berry color: dark red

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 13 Brix

Overall: early variety, it is very sweet and juicy


Ayta 503

Flowering time: 1st May

Ripening time: 2nd September

Latitude: 31 37 29

Longitude: 65 37 16

Source: Afghanistan National Horticulture development Organization (ANHDO) (1)

Shondakhanai 507

Flowering time: first May

Maturity time: third July

Source: (ANHDO) (1)





Lal Sorkh 736

Flowering time: 1st to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 4th week of July

Bunch size: small

Berry size: medium

Berry color: red

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 23.5 Brix

Overall: best for fresh consumption

Red Globe 228

Flowering time: 1st to 3rd week of May

Ripening time: 1st week of August

Bunch size: long

Berry size: big

Berry color: red

Seed presence: present

Sugar Content: 22 Brix Overall: late mid variety, good for fresh market



Growing season: growing season for grapes is standardly 150-180 days but for short season varieties it’s about less than 150 days and for long growing season’s varieties it’s about 200 days. Grapevine chilling requirement (cold weather before flowering and growth in spring, for buds opening) is 100 hours between 0 – 7,2 °C. (14)

Irrigation system: Vine yards are mostly irrigated with canals and karez (qanat) irrigation systems although a low percentage consist of spring rainfall and wells. Vine yards irrigated with in the intervals of 10-15 days with flooding irrigation system.

Training and pruning: pruning of grapes is practicing by two types. (15)

  1. Spur pruning: leave 2-4 buds on shoots, spur pruning is mostly applicable for varieties that buds of bases on shoots have the ability of producing fruit. Such as Taifi. Generally, all varieties with fruits containing a seed is pruned by spur pruning.
  2. Cane pruning: In cane pruning more buds to be lifted on shoots and as it takes the shape of a cane due to its called cane pruning. It’s divided by two types.
    1. Short canes: buds to be lifted 4-7
    2. Long canes: buds to be lifted 8-15

Cane pruning is mostly applicable for varieties that buds on the bases of shoots are not capable of producing fruit or don’t have sufficient production such as Kishmeshi, Shondakhanai, flame seedless. Usually cane pruning is mostly applicable for varieties that they have seedless berries.


  1. Earth–trellised “Jui” system: Earth-trellised “Jui” system is the main grape production system in the country. The establishment of the vines on a ‘jui’ system takes four years, after which production in subsequent year will be approximately the same. (10)
(Earth–trellised “Jui” vineyard system. Grape field Ghazni photo taken by Mohammad Ali Musa 2003, Ghazni, Afghanistan)
(Earth–trellised “Jui” vineyard system. Grape field Ghazni photo taken by Mohammad Ali Musa 2003, Ghazni, Afghanistan)


  1. Freestanding head system: This is a traditional training system of grapes that don’t needs a trellis. This training system is consisting of a strong and straight trunk containing 4-5 canes, which is supporting their self. Grapevine trained by this system need a stick for the period of 3-5 years to support the trunk and after five years’ stick is not needed anymore and grapevine can be stable and is able to support their self. Yield in this system is less in comparison with trellis system. Collection of grapes trained by freestanding-head system is practiced by hand. Grapevine trained with freestanding head system have 4-5 canes (arms). Fruit producing branches grow directly on the trunk and it can be pruned by spur or cane pruning. (Samadi, 2013) (14)
  2. Trellising system: Two common trellising systems are consisting of: (15)
    1. I- trellising (vertically shoot posilimal trellis and or cordon training system)
    2. T- trellising
  1. I- trellising: Training by this system is mostly applicable for varieties pruned by spur pruning. This system contains a wire 50-60 inches above the ground on which the grapevine is trained, also above of the cordon wire there are 1-2 wires for keeping the branches. Yield by I- trellising is high and harvest can be done easily by machine. This system is useful for varieties use for raisin production.
  2. T – Trellising: This system is applicable for both spur and cane pruning varieties. T- Trellising training system is mostly useful for varieties used for fresh grapes production, but is also useful and applicable for varieties of raisin production. Generally, stick wire which has the shape of T is located 170 cm above the ground and there are 4-5 wires with the distance of (20-25 cm) which cover an area of 1 meter. (Samadi, 2013) (14)


Raisins are economically one of the largest part of the horticultural crops in Afghanistan. They consist of a large part of exports. During 1960s and 1970s, export of raisins from Afghanistan counted for 60 percent of the world market. (Afghanistan research and evaluation unit AREU, 2004). (10)

In Afghanistan grapes are dried directly in the sun, black and red raisins Aftabi (Sun-dried) and those that are dried in kishmish khana (mudbrick drying house) away from direct sun-light the green raisins (kishmish). Kishmish khana can be quite long but usually 3 meters wide. Kishmish are usually produced in Kishmish khana which kishmih is usually only used for the green shade-dried seedless raisin.

Kishmish khana, photo taken 2012 Kandahar
Kishmish khana, photo taken 2012 Kandahar

Keshmeshi and Shundukhani grapes (like all seedless varieties) tend to produce small berries which are less acceptable on the fresh market, and can only achieve low prices, (10) due to a research had been conducted by (PHDP, MAIL 2008). Research has been made to improve the product quality of mentioned varieties by thinning the berries in the bunch (which is acceptable) for varieties that have tight or compact cluster and as a side effect thinning the bunch reduce rots and other problems.

There had practiced two trials by using of gibberellin GA3 on fruit cluster.

The first trial was application of gibberellin at flowering time. As expected, this time of application reduced yield. This has shown no beneficial effects on the Keshmeshi grape, and does not described further.

The second or main trial of the gibberellin application was made at fruit set. The berries in the bunch were on the size of mung bean. In This trial the effective treatment, which gave a substantial increase in yield, without unacceptable reduction in sweetness of the fruit, was the treatment of gibberellin at 60 parts per million (60ppm). The yield increase was recorded 61% and the price increase was 28%, more than doubling the return to the grower.

This research was conducted by Perennial Horticulture Development Project (PHDP), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan (MAIL) and Horticulture building Jamal Mina, 2008). There were concluded the result, for whole research please follow the link:



Grapes (grapevine) a deciduous liana with flaky bark is a good source of health improvement nutrients. In Afghanistan grapes are planted with a spread and large area of plantation which produce a higher yield and a high value received from them each year. Production system, cultural practices and post-harvest process are still traditional so for achieving and having a product suited with market quality standards (such as its bunch attractiveness, berry size, color, sugar content, concentration of sugar versus acids, sanitation, pest diseases control, packaging):

Varieties, production system, cultural practices, diseases-pest control packaging and processing practices must to be improved.

Resistance Varieties against pre and post-harvest pests and diseases, with good and desired quality characters must o be improved if this is by breeding, by genetic engineering or by any next useful approach. Although genetic modification is still mostly not practiced in Afghanistan but must to be applied and or varieties expressing good quality characters and resistant against diseases pests must to be imported from outside of the country.

However in Afghanistan we don’t use as much chemicals but integrated pest management (IPM) mostly biological control must to be applied and improved as IPM is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable and friendly.

Post-harvest activities storage and processing must to be substituted from traditional and or old methods to new approaches containing pre-storage and preprocessing activities must to be applied in a right path.

In addition that our production/ha is low in comparison with international production we have low market facilities and there is no coordination and collaboration between farmer, merchant and related governmental and private sector organizations due to coordination and collaboration must to be created and improved and market facilities should to be created.

Updated materials regarding planting and cultural practices of grapes must to distribute among farmers.

New technology must to be imported and distributed or should to be in access.

Related seminars and lessons should to be held by relevant organizations.




  1. Afghanistan National Horticulture Development Project (ANHDO), National collection. Grape varieties. Available at:
  2. Afghanistan National Nursery Growers Organization (ANNGO), 2012-2013 catalogue, Kabul.
  3. Afghanistan National Nursery Growers Organization (ANNGO), 2013-2014 catalogue, Kabul.
  4. Afghanistan statistical yearbook 2014-15. Central statistics organization. Islamic republic of Afghanistan.
  5. Afghanistan statistical yearbook 2009. Central statistics organization. Islamic republic of Afghanistan.
  6. BAKHSHIPOUR, A., JAFARI, A. and ZOMORODIAN, A. 2012. Vision Based Features in Moisture Content Measurement during Raisin Production. World Applied Sciences Journal, 17: 860-869.
  7. BENI, B.N., BABAHEYDARI A.K., BENI. A.N., BENI, M.T. and ANSARI, F., 2013. Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the White Soil: Implication for Production of Grape Syrup. World Applied Sciences Journal, 21: 1829-1834.
  8. CANTOS, E.; ESPIN, J. C.; TOMAS-BARBERAN, F. A. Varietal differences among the polyphenol profiles of seven table grape cultivars studied by LC-DAD-MS-MS. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 5691–5696.
  9. KEMAL-UR-RAHIM, K. (2003) “A review of the horticultural marketing and post-harvest conditions”. Kabul, FAO.
  10. LISTER. S., BROWN. T., KARAEV. Z. 2004. Understanding markets in Afghanistan: a case study of the raisin market. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Available at:
  11. Market brief: Grapes the perspective of export growth. USAID’s Agricultural Credit Enhancement Program in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation of Islamic republic of Afghanistan. vol. 2. 2009
  12. PARKER, T. L., WANG, X-H., PAZMIÑO, J. AND ENGESETH, N. J. Antioxidant Capacity and Phenolic Content of Grapes, Sun-Dried Raisins, and Golden Raisins and Their Effect on ex Vivo Serum Antioxidant Capacity. Univeristy of Illinois, Purdue University. 2007, J. Agric. Food Chem 55, 8472–8477. Available at:


  1. PASTRANA-BONILLA, E.; AKOH, C. C.; SELLAPPAN, S.; KREWER, G. Phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of muscadine grapes. J. Agric. Food. Chem. 2003, 51, 5497–5503.
  2. SAMADI, G.R. 2013. Deciduous fruits. Kabul University. Chapter. p. 115
  3. SAMADI, G.R. 2011. Principles of fruit production. Kabul University. Chapter. p.157
  4. TEISSEDRE, P. L.; FRANKEL, E. N.; WATERHOUSE, A. L.; PELEG, H.; GERMAN, J. B. Inhibition of in vitro human LDL oxidation by phenolic antioxidants from grapes and wines. J. Sci. Food Agric. 1996, 70, 55–61.
  5. ZANNAT URBI, Hossain, Md. S., HAFIZUR RAHMAN, K.M. and ZAYED, T. M. Grape: A Medicinal Fruit Species in the Holy Qur’an and its Ethnomedicinal Importance. International Islamic University Malaysia. World Applied Sciences Journal 30 (3): 253-265, 2014, ISSN 1818-4952

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