ENJIL DISTRICT, Herat Province – The humid air clings to Alaudin, 45, who is soaked in sweat. He is surveying his grapes, walking among the vines and pruning dead branches. He owns a 70-jerib orchard (14 hectares), on which he grows apricots, peaches, plums, and 42 varieties of grapes.
In a corner of Alaudin’s orchard in Nangabad village, among the green vines, sits a newly built raisin drying house. Inside, a network of chords hangs from iron stands, on which Alaudin places bunches of grape for seven to 10 days, during which time they turn to raisins.
Nangabad village lies in Enjil district, 25 kilometers from Herat city, the provincial capital. Agriculture is the village’s primary source of income and livelihood, and the majority of the villagers are farmers, growing mostly grapes. The grapes are dried to raisins before being sold in Herat city markets.
“In the past we used traditional raisin drying houses where it took longer for the grapes to dry into raisins. The quality was not good and many of our grapes rotted,” says Alaudin. “Using the new drying house, the color and quality of our raisins have improved, less dust settles on the grapes and a larger amount turn to raisins in a shorter period of time.”
Another farmer Gul Ahmad, 48, agrees that the modern drying houses are more efficient. Taking a break from work under the shade of a drying house, he explains: “Our traditional raisin drying houses lacked space. We could only turn a limited amount of our grapes into raisins at any given time. They needed 15-25 days to turn into raisins.”
“Now we can dry 10 tons of grapes into 2.5 tons of raisins in only 10 days using the modern drying house. The wind reaches all the grapes evenly and they dry and turn into raisins much faster.”