Afghanistan’s saffron export to Europe and Asia increases by 67%
According to Najla Habib, head of the EPAA, Afghanistan’s saffron export has reached USD 1mn.
EPAA officials called on the government to support farmers and traders to boost saffron export by subsidizing saffron seeds and providing markets for the valuable spice.
Afghanistan’s saffron is sold at around USD 1,400 to USD 2,000 per kilogram and there is a high demand for this product in the international market.
The Agriculture Development Department expects that 5,000 ton saffron will be harvested in 32 provinces of Afghanistan this year.
The spice is certainly a lucrative business to the farmers and given its ability to be grown in a dry environment, it may be a viable alternative for the poppy cultivation in the country.
The plant is drought resistant and only needs irrigation twice or three times a year, compared to poppy plants irrigated six times a year. Another advantage is that growing saffron is legal in Islam, unlike poppy that is prohibited.
It is normally cultivated in summer and collected in the last month of fall. It is used in making medicines, adding flavor to food, appetizers, and hot drinks and making perfume. It grows best in areas with light winter weather and dry, hot summers.
Saffron is yet to emerge as a major alternative to poppy cultivation in Afghanistan due to the presence of international drug lords, who control the lucrative drug commerce.
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