The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock continues its efforts to promote saffron cultivation in Nangarhar, Farah, Paktia and other insecure provinces as an appropriate alternative for poppy cultivation, officials said on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the ministry, Akbar Rustami, said 240,000 tons of saffron seeds will be distributed to farmers across the country this year.
Saffron cultivation was first introduced in Herat province – in the west of Afghanistan. Its cultivation is now practiced in 33 provinces, Rustami said.
“We have saffron cultivation in insecure provinces. For example, in eastern provinces in many districts of Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Logar and some provinces in the west including Farah, Ghor and Badghis. There is no challenge in this respect,” said Rustami.
Analysts said saffron is a good alternative for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and that it should further be promoted in insecure regions.
“Saffron cultivation should be promoted in insecure areas more than other parts. Big areas in these (insecure) provinces have suitable weather for saffron cultivation. By this, we can create jobs and have an alternative for poppy cultivation,” said Mohammad Yasin Farahman, an agricultural specialist.
According to figures by the Ministry of Agriculture, Afghanistan produced 10.8 tons of saffron last year of which eight tons was exported out of the country.
The ministry said saffron production will increase to 14 tons annually within the next three years.