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Afghanistan - Afghan Indica

This article is the sixth of a series focused on the most important landraces of cannabis. All the thousands of strains of cannabis we use today are derived from a limited number of landraces, which have been used for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes during centuries. Cannabis originated in central Asia, and from there it has spread to all corners of the world. Sometimes helped by nature, sometimes by man, cannabis seeds have conquered unimaginable distances, spreading their genetics, adapting to new environments, changing their characteristics, and therefore resulting in countless combination. Some of these combination stabilized themselves through inbreeding, and resulted in landraces. Some of these landraces have preserved themselves, isolated in remote areas of the planet with no contact with other cannabis strains for long periods of time.

My name is Franco, my passion is cannabis, and my work is strain-hunting for Green House Seed Company.

And this is the history of:

Afghan Indica

Afghanistan is a large mountain country landlocked in Asia, between Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Over the last 25 years the country has been at war, and things are not looking too promising for the near future. The most recent conflict raging between the US-backed government and tribal Muslim groups is on the news every day, together with reports about opium production. In fact, Afghanistan is much more famous for its opium than for its cannabis. In Afghanistan opium is the first export and the largest cash crop, sustaining up to 50% of the population. And cannabis the second cash crop, producing large quantities of weed and hashish.

The hashish from Afghanistan is one of the highest qualities in the world, and demand always exceeds supply.
According to the opinion of most cannabis connoisseurs, Afghanistan is part of the area where it all started, where cannabis first made its appearance on the planet. The region between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, North India and South China is considered by most experts botanists the cradle of the genetics of cannabis. From this area it has spread all over the world, with intervention from nature and man. Afghan Cannabis is considered by most experts as “the” landrace, the plant that evolved into all other landraces, the mother of all strains. This theory is supported by several others, especially the one referring to the silk road. Cannabis seeds left Asia towards Africa and Europe following the first trade routes across Asia to the west. The Afghan Indica is a thick, short, bushy plant; the branches grow 45 degrees upwards, creating a round plant shape, often wider than taller and very bushy. The color is dark green, bordering shades of black, blue and purple. The leaflets are short and wide, fully overlapping each other, forming round and thick leaves. These are plants that grow in a harsh mountain climate, with extremely hot day temperatures and cold nights, and a burning-hot sun and strong winds. They flower for 8 or 9 weeks only, and the harvest is always at the end of the intense summer.

The buds are dense, hard, compact, and extremely white and sticky with resin, which is loaded with cannabinoids and terpenes. The traits are perfectly built for the mountain conditions, making this one of the strongest, most rugged and most resistant cannabis plants on earth. There are several variations in the genetics of different areas of Afghanistan, so it becomes difficult to identify one single landrace. What makes it a landrace is the number of common plant traits as well as strong similarities in the flavor and effect. The high of the Afghan cannabis is very physical, stoned, relaxing, and somewhat heavy on the legs; for people used to smoke sativas, it borders the numbing-narcotic side of cannabis.

The Afghan Indica was first retrieved as a landrace in the 1980s, and brought back to Holland. Already at that time Afghanistan was at war, and bringing genetics back meant dealing with guerrilla troops fighting the Russian Army. But some of the pioneers of the industry made it, and once the seeds popped up in Holland and America the Afghan landrace became famous as a strain in pure form, and was used for hundreds, maybe thousands of different crossings. The most famous of those crosses became award-winning strains, like the White Rhino (White Widow x Afghan). The Afghan Indica adds to any strain its dominant traits, usually shortening flowering time and adding density and overall size to the flower clusters. The ability of shortening the flowering time is particularly useful in crossings with sativas, where plants with an original flowering time over 12 weeks can be brought down to a much more commercially acceptable 9-10 weeks. Also production is usually positively affected by crossing with the Afghan, because the buildup of the flower clusters becomes denser and more compact. The taste of the Afghan Indica is very mossy and sweet but the terpene profiles usually does not overpower the cross, leaving plenty of room to create great new hybrids with the dominant flavor of the other strain used.

Nowadays it is very hard to travel to Afghanistan in search of cannabis seeds. The best option is to go in nearby countries and try to get some of the exported bud, but this creates huge issues in trying to identify the exact origin, and it is impossible to select the best plants to collect seeds from. Because of this difficulties, those who have an original Afghan landrace are very jealous of it, and it is not easy to find even in the connoisseurs circles. And this adds to the legend...

Franco – Green House Seed Co.
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What is the significant difference between Pakistan land race and Afghani? It seems to me that they are so close in proximity (including elevation, geology and geography) that the genetic differences would be negligible.
One might thhink so but the opposite is true. Back in the Hippie era before the war afghanistan was the gateway to India for all the travellers. it was like every moslem's task to visit Mekka a holy task to visit India not only for smoking, but for it's ancient wisdom and religious expertise etc. So the travels usually went non stop to Istanbul's pudding shop, where all travellers met and you could score the first true landrace hash. The green Turk - I boughht a chunk of hash there and asking the american girl who guided as to the local dealer# house told me according to my question How many grams are this (around an ounce i guess) she answered forget about grams "it'll take you to Afganistan..there you get better stuff*
Chicken Street in Kabul was notorious for the people who wanted to get to India fast but the true connaisseur smokers went north to Mazar-i-Sharif. My best friend told me he saw a huge hash plant in front of the police station in Mazar-i-Sharif. Tora Bora, Sheberghan, each valley produces another phenotype with the richest creamiest sweetest and tastiest hashish you will find anywhere on this planet. It is extremely potent, but due to it's narcotic relaxing effects it is not as racey as some other varieties, so that paranoia is usually kept at bai. extremely red eyes may occur, though-so best smoke that shit in private. The Paki oth has a harsher, less tasty character. It was mainly used to be mixed under afghan pollen for export. For years the dominant Hahish sold in large amounts in europe was the NPL, which was a combination of Nepali, Afghan and Pakistani pollen. afaik (hear say) was that it contained between 40 to 60 % Afghan up to 20 % (usually less) Nepali and the rest was Paki. That smoke was really decent; but nothing compared to the purer afghan bricks in 100 gram plattes. Even those with lots of plant material inside tasted better than the NPL. I only got one sample from a traveller who brought back Pakistani hash pressed in thin plates. That was a very nice smoke, but still not on the level of the better afghani chunks I came across.
Of course I was not there to sample directly so take that with a grain of salt. I am sure that certain valleys bordering on the afghani Hindu-Kush will produce great tasting Cannabis, it is just on a larger scale Pakistan is low or at least flat land and very densely populated, a different culture and Afghanistan is nearly mountain only with very few people living on a huge era with thousands of valleys in a massive mountain region with only a few larger cities. The main producer of quality Hashish since thousands of years.. My favorite Hashish brand, only surpassed by Kashmir Charras which is basically impossible to get since Kashmir is on lock since the early 80ies. No way to get a Visa. That is the last great unknown region for breeders ... who dares to bring seeds from there first ?
The last time I had Afghani hashish was some import through a local dealer-Pre Soviet invasion in December of 1978. I was a sophomore in high school. Our town, here in the Pacific Northwest, was a notorious drop off point for Columbian Gold, Panama Red and Thai. Anyway, the hash was dark and the aroma was unforgettable. The hash I make now is great hash, but definitely is not land race from Afghanistan.
At the Seattle hemp fest, I asked some pakis if they would send some relatives into the tribal areas and take GPS pics of the plants and get their seeds, that we we could have proof location of landrace. Since I am too chicken to into Afghanistan, especially the tribal areas.