The International Taste & Quality Institute in the Belgian capital of Brussels has once again named Afghanistan's saffron the best in the world, after sampling some 300 samples.
This is the third year that the institute has awarded Afghanistan the prestigious status, which came in the form of a three star certificate.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MoAI) used the occasion to highlight the importance of saffron for the Afghan economy. "Afghan saffron has gained three golden star certificates and this is a great achievement for Afghanistan," ministry spokesman Lotfullah Rashid said on Saturday. "Saffron cultivation has developed well in recent years and last year 4,000 kg of saffron was harvested."
Independent experts say the government should do more to promote saffron cultivation and export production around the world.
"Still we need to concentrate on the quality and enhancing production," Academy of Science member Sikandar Hussaini told TOLOnews. "Environmental issues and climate must be considered while working on saffron production; Herat has the proper climate for saffron, but Nangarhar does not, and necessary studies are needed in the provinces before cultivating the herb."
Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation officials say they expect to see saffron production up in 2015, thanks in part to the government's recent distribution of seeds to farmers in 23 provinces.