The acting minister for MAIL said the cultivation and production of saffron has increased, but more work needs to be done to market and process the product.
Fifth National Saffron Conference Kicks Off In Kabul
The acting minister for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) Nasir Ahmad Durani said on Monday at the Fifth National Saffron Conference in Kabul that saffron production is on the rise and emphasized the need for research and processing centers.
Durani said this year the total land cultivated for saffron had increased from 2,500 acres to over 3,000 acres and that production will increase by 20 percent against last year.
“In the ecnomic sector the international community should help us to have access to the world's markets,” said Durani.
In addition to male farmers at the conference, a number of female saffron farmers also attended.
One female farmer from Parwan province Gul Andam Omidwar said this year she has cultivated one jerib (almost half an acre) land of saffron.
“I have cultivated saffron where a number of women work with me,” said Omidwar.
The farmers said they are happy with saffron productions, but urged government to prepare plans for improving saffron cultivation and finding markets for their products.
Agriculture, irrigation and livestock ministry officials urged the representatives and foreign experts to help Afghanistan in standardizing saffron cultivation, packaging, process and marketing.
Nazeer Ahmad, Vice Chancellor of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture, Science and Technology, in Jammu and Kashmir, said India is planning to provide assistance with research and farming technology.
Despite the opportunities and easiness in cultivation and production of saffron, there are challenges in exporting the product. Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials said the saffron trade which is worth around $12 million USD is facing numerous challenges.
Deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Khan Jan Alokozay said last year around 3.5 tons of saffron was not exported due to problems.
“Last year 400kgs of saffron was sent back from Riyadh,” said Alokozay.
At an exhibition held on the sidelines of the conference the traders said although the cultivation and production of saffron has increased, challenges in exporting saffron has resulted in the drop in price for the herb.
The agriculture ministry last year drew up the National Saffron Strategy to increase saffron cultivation to 4,000 acres of land and its production to 14 tons within the next five years.