KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA TIRAH VALLEY (Orakzai, Khyber & Kurram Agency)
Tirah Maidan (Valley) in Khyber Agency is situated at an altitude of over 2000-2500+ meters at 32°- 33° North of Equator , Just on the cusp of Pak-Afghan Border towards the southern fringes of Hindu Kush Ranges and Around 150 km south, South West of Chitral.
Tirah valley houses almost every expression imaginable in cannabis from extremely short 2-3 ft. Plants to the humongous classical highland Hash-plant embodiment and everything in between. One of the major reasons behind the awe-inspiring variation of cannabis genotypes is the fact that almost all the domesticated varieties were brought (imported here) either from Peshawar, chitral, or majorly from Afghanistan. Tirah valley spans over 33-34 degrees north which makes it a very special place in terms of the latitude positioning as it is generally observed and understood that beyond 33 north the cannabis genotypes seems to flower shorter and as a result stretch less and finish with completely different morphology, also highly suggestive but not necessarily of BT/BT type-I genotype which predominantly converts Precursor cannabinoids into THCA.
There are a lot of inter-population differences present even in fields as close as 10-20 meters across each other since different farmers plant different varieties imported or import-domesticated as per their desire.
There's a lot of short squat type plants which seem to be either a very close representation of Highland/short flowering Hindu kush type extremely short plants or a more robust Mazari like plant sometimes compact exactly like mazari and others plant can be seen in an acclimatized form where it stretches almost 2 times the size of original mazari plants and flower a tad bit longer due to the increased duration of pre-flower stretch probably embedded by a longer season at lower latitude and high rainfall.
Bigger plants appear similar to tall Hash-plant varieties with that extra bare stalk that adds to the height. Leaf shapes more or less represent the dominant broad leaf expression even across the board.
The Afridi tribe is one of the many but definitely biggest tribes to cultivate and produce high quality resin from the valley, and As per the Afridi Tribe the Cannabis plant was brought to Tirah Valley 100's years ago by A Sufi from India and since then they're cultivating it. Although it's only a subjective account , however coming from the indigenous people of the said Land. The valley expands into 3 different districts of khyber pakhtunkhwa, Orakzai, Khyber and Khurram Agency. It's one of the very few places in the world where the plant morphology varies, more because of the nature (DNA) rather than the nurture (environment).
Orakzai Agency is truly worthy of being talked about in detail and before any other district because most of the people from orakzai being employed directly or indirectly in the cannabis related businesses and have been unconsciously shaping the cannabis culture tremendously over the years in All of Pakistan.
Orakzai Agency or District in The FATA or now a part of the bigger province (KPK) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. Surrounded by Kohat, Khurram and Khyber Agency all of which are famous cannabis hotspots in their own right.
Orakzai however easily far exceeds them in each aspect from production to distribution and indulgence wise as well, people mostly work in an around cannabis related Businesses, from cultivation to processing and Transportation to Distribution.
Orakzai Agency has a mountainous terrain which averages around 2-3000 meters it is located just a few miles from the transversing hindu kush ranges through the khyber pass -wakhan corridor and into the afghanistan. Although tirah valley is known to have an extremely diversified climate which is colder in the upper northern and north west parts and can be very hot towards some parts of the khyber agency.
Although Orakzai climate is generally cool, the winters can be very cold though with snow during December-Jan, and also the summer temperatures never exceed 30°Celsius with relatively high rainfall around the year which is very close to 1000 mm annually.
The cannabis varieties in this specific region show great variation from , tall classic Hashplant to very small 2-3 ft plants resembling Highland/Short flowering varieties and standard 6-7 ft. plants with Quintessential Afghan expression. The diversity in cannabis expression is remarkable as these varieties were imported and acclimatized over time giving way to microclimate sculpted expressions in these regional Heirlooms.
Tirah Resin processing and distribution
Tirah is considered to produce one of the best quality Resin and luckily it's one of the places where Quality meets Quantity. In terms of effects the smoke induces an invigorating cerebral High, Which comes on with a balanced dose of body relaxation at the same time, but not in a couch lock kind of effect, and the high remains very much functional.All the material is dried to be sifted through a cloth which works as a screen, the process is similar to Kashmir with the only difference being they don't cook the Garda (resin) in corn cobs, instead just prefer to sell in powdered form, which can be very easily pressed into some ready to smoke Charas.
Once all the resin is sifted and collected in sacks, it’s set off to different locations for a systematic distribution across the nation and even beyond, but before that a ritual awaits where patrons of good hashish flock together to celebrate perhaps the only hash carnival in the world.Tirah, Garda Mela (A Kief Carnival), Which takes place in remote locations after harvest season in November. It only lasts for 1 Day however there are multiple Fairs going in different locations in Tirah Valley Pakistan.
Farmers line up with buckets and sacks full of Garda (Dry Sifted resin) which is sold to the visitors. The people who know about this fair are mainly, the connoisseur or Old school folks with good connections who have had been visiting for years.There's no fixed date for the Carnival, so the ones who know, Know
Tirah valley is a collection of countless small and big Cannabis farms, The plant and the culture was brought here by Afridi tribe, approximately 600 years ago (as per The local consensus). The cannabis populations has been domesticated over the years by farmers and have adapted to the most suited expression to it's respective environment. Although there's a plethora of diversity within farms to farms in expressions ranging from very squat and short plants to classical highland expression, Every other embodiment of the Tirah valley heirloom brings something different to cherish.
Tirah Valley is regarded as one of the biggest resin production grounds in the Pakistan and also the State Doesn't interfere much with tribes who grow cannabis in this Valley, so they can produce Garda (dry sifted resin) from the big resinous flowers after drying it in the Valley.
Dry sifting is done within the valley and quality of resin speak volumes about the genetic makeup of the plants.The dry sifted resin looks light brown to blonde depending on the quality of input and the Run, cannabinoid levels are far better than many pakistani varieties. It will almost be a crime if we didn’t even briefly touched upon the phenomenon of “AWALGUL”.
A very special kind of hashish called "Awalgul" is made at the beginning of the season which is considered the best quality, as "Awalgul" literally translates to First Flower in pashto and it's the first Sift which makes for this quality of hashish. Where the trichomes are almost visible clearly. It’s one of the most sought after types of hashish amongst users and Orakzai agency produces most of it.
Khyber & Kurram Agency
Khyber and Kurram Agency also produce a considerable amount of hashish however not nearly as much as Orakzai. That doesn’t really undermine the contributions from these areas in respect to fulfilling the overall demands of the resin in the country and outside. The cultures around the cannabis in these regions are much more secluded due to the tough terrains and lesser overall involvement in cannabis related activities.
Tirah valley expanse into kurram and khyber is not as widespread and only the colder/mountainous parts of those region have the cannabis cultivation the areas southwards which aren't part of Tirah valley can get very hot and are also thoroughly urbanized.
In a nutshell, Tirah Valley is the powerhouse of pakistani cannabis which expresses some of the best examples of the amalgamation of afghani and pakistan genetics, brought by humans & sculpted by nature.