Citrus trees planted under shade of date palms

Khanqin’s Citrus Legacy: A blend of tradition and flavors

KHANAQIN — Nestled beneath towering palms in Khanaqin, a distinctive citrus cultivation method flourishes. This practice, handed down through generations, showcases a harmonious blend of heritage and horticultural expertise in an ancient orchard, a testament to the region’s enduring agricultural traditions.

Omed Javid, a local farmer, carefully tends to six varieties of oranges and clementines under the protective canopy of palm trees. This method not only preserves the legacy of his land but also enhances the flavors of the produce.

Established over a century ago, this orchard benefits from a symbiotic relationship between the citrus trees and the overhead palms. The shade from the palms creates a microclimate ideal for the citrus trees, enabling them to thrive throughout the year, shielded from the severe extremes of summer and winter. This innovative approach, inherited from his ancestors, sets Iraqi citrus apart in the competitive field of Mediterranean and Levantine agriculture, renowned for producing some of the world’s finest citrus varieties.

Javid’s orchard produces standard oranges, the prolific Abu al-Sirrah, blood oranges, and rosewater varieties, among others. The clementine varieties under his care include selections from Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, the traditional clementine, and the Dutch variant, with the Iraqi variety noted for its exceptional quality. “Khanaqin is renowned for its citrus fruits, annually supplying thousands of tons of oranges, lemons, and Clementines to Iraqi markets,” Javid told 964media, his pride apparent.

The unique flavor profile of the fruits from Javid’s orchard is attributed to the special environmental conditions provided by the palm shades. This technique not only conserves water by minimizing evaporation but also shields the citrus trees from the intense sun, ensuring consistent growth and the production of juicy fruits year after year.

In an era where modern agricultural practices often prioritize efficiency over quality, Javid’s orchard in Khanaqin stands as a symbol of traditional farming wisdom. It exemplifies how ancient practices, in harmony with nature’s rhythms, can produce fruits of unmatched taste and quality.