With dozens of types of grapes, farmers in Duhok hope to export products
Duhok province has in recent years become one of the leading parts of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in producing large quantities and quality varieties of grapes, with farmers increasingly utilizing the favorable conditions for growing the grapevine across the province.
Along with grapes, grapevine leaves are also a staple of Kurdish cuisine, commonly stuffed with a mixture of grain, herbs, spices, and meat then rolled and cooked, a dish called eprakh in Duhok. There is also a similar dish called lentil dolma.
Raisin juice is also among the go-to refreshments for many Duhok residents, increasing the demand for the fruit further.
According to the Duhok directorate of agriculture, five million square meters of land in the province is currently planted with grapevine trees. Duhok grapes farms reportedly produce 7,000 to 8,000 tons of the fruit annually.
The most well-known areas in Duhok for quality and quantity of grapes are Mangeshk and Zawita sub-districts, located north and east of the province, respectively.
Recognizing the increasing popularity and cultural significance of the fruit tree, the 2011 Duhok Film Festival organizers found it best fitting to use the grape leaf as the event’s logo.
Duhok farmers participated in a fair on Sept. 20 that showcased the varieties of grapes they had produced in their latest harvests. There were also beekeepers selling their latest honey yields.
“Kurdistan Region has 124 types of grapes, I myself have around 60 types in my farms,” Abdulrahman Sleman Bageri, one of Duhok’s leading grape farmers, told Kurdistan24. He also explained that the heaviest grape cluster of his he has weighed was 6 kilos, a rather significant amount.
Abdulrahman said the grapes he cultivates, some indigenous and some foreign, include Bageri, Rasha Bageri, Khatini, Misa Beg, Hajazi, Kamali, Abasi, Taifi, Yaqoti, Zark, Hilwani, Baid Hamam, as well as Red Globe, French, German and Russian types.
Dr. Amjad Obaid, the organizer of the fair, attributed the success of Duhok grape farmers, whom he described as “professionals,” to years of hard work in growing the fruit and industry.
The soil and climate of Duhok have made the area highly well-suited to cultivating grapes, locals have said. Farmers also get support from local authorities to produce the best yield.
Interested in Duhok farmers’ products, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani himself visited the fair, reiterating the regional government’s support for farmers in Duhok.
One of the farmers at the event, Ismael Muhammad, started with apples and peaches but found success in grapes.
He told Kurdistan 24 that he is confident Duhok farmers “produce enough to export” their grapes to other countries. Muhammad expressed his hope that the government would facilitate their ambitions of marketing their products abroad.
This, he argued, would also help diversify the Kurdistan Region’s sources of revenue.