Cultivation of saffron as an alternative to opium has yielded positive results in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, as officials say every acre of land has produced nearly one kilogram of the precious spice.
In an experiment, around 130 acres of land in five districts of Kandahar, including Khakrez, Maiwand, Zherai, Panjwayee and Daman, were cultivated with saffron this year.
Officials say saffron cultivation has yielded good results.
“With the help of the Dutch Committee, we distributed saffron to 100 farmers in different districts for cultivation in 100 acres of land. Saffron has good yield as nearly one kilogram of saffron is harvested from one acre,” said Shams-ur-Rahman Musa, head of agriculture department of directorate of agriculture and livestock in Kandahar.
Farmers also say that they have harvested good amount of saffron, but they are concerned about lack of a good market for their products.
“We cultivated saffron instead of poppy, and it has yielded positive result. But there is no market and we can’t sell,” said Mohammad Ismael, a farmer in Kandahar.
Local officials said they are seeking to find market for saffron.
“We are in talks with other institutions. We are seeking to find market for saffron and for its better processing in order to improve the farmers’ economic condition in the future,” said Abdul Ghafoor, head of plant department of provincial directorate of agriculture and livestock.
According to the data of the directorate, around 80,000 hectares used to be cultivated with poppy in the past, but after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), farmers have now turned to saffron.—Ariana news