Chechnya’s traditional spring harvest of long-rooted garlic becomes dangerous
Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus – An early mountain thaw in the Caucasus triggered the traditional spring harvesting of long-rooted garlic. Every day hundreds of people head for the forests to collect this plant, which is a highly desired commodity by locals and visitors alike.
However, this popular pastime has recently became a very dangerous activity. Each year the number of people injured or killed by landmines is high during this season. Chechen woods are replete with various types of mines----as well as Russian soldiers, so that running into them can often lead to similar consequences.
A week ago, in a forest near the Samaskhi village, three women fell victim to a mine imbedded by Russian soldiers. Two were severely injured, while the third, a mother of two children, died instantly.
The majority of people have begun to harvest this plant in neighbouring Ingushetia, hoping it will be safer there. As a result, the long-rooted garlic that had once been harvested in Chechnya is virtually unavailable in local
markets, as most of it now comes from Ingushetia. One kilo of garlic, which physicians claim is very healthy, costs 15 rubles (50 cents) in Nazran markets, while in Grozny it sells for 20-25 rubles.