By Leman Mammadova
Azerbaijan's national brand and symbol - a pomegranate, which differs from those of other countries for taste and quality, has received worldwide recognition as one of the best.
New results have been obtained, confirming that Azerbaijan is one of the world centers of primary origin of pomegranate, Director of the Institute of Genetic Resources of ANAS, correspondent member of ANAS Zeynal Akbarov told Trend.
He noted that currently, about 200 varieties of pomegranate of Azerbaijani origin are known. For the first time, we studied the genetic diversity of 85 forms and varieties of pomegranate at the molecular level. The study revealed a high genetic diversity of samples, that is, each type of pomegranate was different from the others.
The director of the Institute noted that the presence of such pomegranate varieties indicates that it originated many thousands of years ago and that pomegranate plant has grown in Azerbaijan for thousands of years.
“At present, Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Afghanistan are considered to be the main homeland of pomegranate along with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has many kinds of pomegranate varieties and many territories in which its wild forms are common. We consider that Azerbaijan is one of the centers of primary origin of pomegranate. This fact is proved by our molecular studies,” he added.
The Director of the Institute noted that certification of the studied pomegranate samples based on genetic samples is carried out.
Articles in English and Russian based on the results have been published in the journal "Genetics" of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Pomegranate is a national fruit that plays a big role in the development of non-oil sector in Azerbaijan, both agriculture and tourism.
Azerbaijan is considered the only country where all varieties of pomegranate grow. The varieties Gulovsha, Vesel, Shandi, Shirin and Bala Mursal are mainly cultivated in local gardens. For the further development of pomegranate production, measures to cultivate new varieties and create new gardens are being taken.
Goychay region is distinguished for the pomegranate cultivation in Azerbaijan. Since 2006, traditional festivals of pomegranates have been held in Goychay region every year. It serves to promote the Azerbaijani pomegranate that has become a cultural and tourism symbol of the country.
Pomegranate is not only economically profitable, but also of great importance for human health. Pomegranate juice and peel are used in the treatment of up to 20 diseases. Pomegranate rind, as well as oil from its seeds are used in cosmetology, pharmaceutical production.
This year Azerbaijan plans to begin construction of a large complex for the production of pomegranate products. The complex can be built in one of the industrial parks of Azerbaijan. It is planned that the complex will consist of four enterprises for the production of pomegranate juice, concentrate, processing of pomegranate peels and seeds. The total cost of the complex, according to the business plan is 25 million manats. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2021.
Leman Mammadova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @leman_888
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