GILGIT: The share of Gilgit-Baltistan in apricot production is 114,286 tons per annum and its export to Russia, the world’s largest importer of dry apricot, could be increased through CPEC connectivity, Director Agriculture Department GB, Fazlur Rehman said on Thursday.

One of the most precious gifts, the apricot in the Northern Areas, which was the major fruit among the variety of fruits in Gilgit Baltistan making it the largest apricot producing land in Pakistan.

He said it was estimated that there were a total of 2,971,935 apricot trees in GB, the most common fruit grown with an average 15 trees per household.

He said apricot had a long and interesting history and it was generally believed that the origin of apricot was China and Central Asia, where the fruit had been cultivated for food as well as for its therapeutic properties for more than 4,000 years.

Fazlur Rehman continued that the apricot tree had also been grown in neighbouring India and Tibet since times immemorial.

According to ancient records, the Hunzas, who inhabited the Himalayan Mountains in the northern regions of present-day Pakistan and were acknowledged for their vigor and long life span, cultivated and treasured apricot for its aptitude to foster health for more than 1500 years.

In Gilgit Baltistan, he said, apricots along with other deciduous fruits were primarily produced as cash crop where majority of families grew apricot.

The practice of planting seeds from the best trees over an extended period of time has resulted in an incredible amount of variation.

He said fruits had mainly been produced to meet annual family needs for dry fruit particularly during severe winter adding among all respondents 76% ranked apricot as their most preferred fruit tree.

Because apricot would meet most of their subsistence needs.

Dried apricot and kernels are main dry fruits for winter.

Most fuel wood is obtained from apricot trees.

Oil from kernels was obtained for various domestic uses while cracked kernel shells were also used as fuel, he added.

Fazal further said that 30% of the rural households would annually earn between Rs 6000 to Rs 8000 from apricot and its by-product in GB.

A farmer would often have as few as two or three trees of the same cultivar mixed with other.

Apricot varieties of Baltistan are Halmand, Wahphochuli, Lonakpochuli, Sherakarpochuli Shakhanda, Margulam, Karpochuli, Ambah, Staachuli, Khochuli, Brochuli. Names of some local cultivars of Gilgit region are Dugli, Neeli, Bedeiri, Chalpachu, Loli, Frugui, Khormagui, Alishah Kakas etc.

In Hunza, one of the larger fruited cultivars had outstanding quality for both fresh as well as dry use, with high soluble solids, pronounced aroma, and rich flavor.

“Alishah Kakas” was another favorite in Hunza because of its exceptionally high soluble solids, fine quality and firm texture making it suitable for shipping fresh and excellent for drying.

In Ghizer another cultivar “dugli” is best as it has two edible kernels inside the fruit and the fruit has larger size.-APP

Courtesy: Pamir Times