Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Saffron Production on Rise

Afghanistan’s saffron is considered to be the best in the world because of its taste and aroma. It is important that Afghanistan must take advantage of it as much as possible. The only way it can turn into a fortune-changing crop for Afghanistan is that it must be promoted in every possible way. There should be serious efforts to increase its production and, at the same time, there must be ways and means to promote its marketing and export. Moreover, every effort that is being taken for increasing its cultivation must be supported by government and business community.
In one of such efforts, the cultivation and production of saffron have been highly promoted in Herat province. As per the statement by local officials in the province, there has been a considerable rise in saffron production in the province this year. The provincial Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock director Abdul Saboor Rahmani has said in a recent statement tha saffron has been cultivated in 3,000 hectares of land in the province, which will result in large scale production and would ultimately result in improving the saffron business in the country. It is also important to note that the saffron production and trade have provided job opportunities to, at least, 18,000 women in the province.
If there are efforts to promote saffron cultivation in other parts of the country, there are possibilities that it can become one of our major exports. Since the demand of Afghan saffron is high and the country can charge considerable price for its export, in the long run, it can support Afghan economy to a large extent. Though Afghanistan is largely dependent on agriculture, insufficient attention and funds have incapacitated the sector to a large extent. Therefore, it can be said that saffron is a ray of hope and the relevant authorities and the farmers themselves must concentrate on making it a major agricultural production.  
In addition, it should also be noted that saffron can help us in some other ways as well. It can be used as an alternative crop to discourage poppy cultivation in the country that has been influencing our country in various ways. It has not only given us the evil of drug addiction that is taking the lives of many Afghan youth but has also strengthened the terrorism and terrorist networks as most of the Taliban terrorists receive their funding from poppy business.
It is important to understand that one of the best ways to control poppy is to motivate the farmers not to grow the poppy crops from the very beginning. Motivating farmers and landlords to grow saffron as an alternative crop can be one of the best solutions as it is practicable and may bring the farmers and landlords profit as well.
Saffron has different advantages as compared to poppy cultivation and among them the most important one is that it does not bring harm to human life, it is legal and does not go against the teachings of Islam. It is one of those crops that have the capability to be grown in dry environment. Moreover, it does not need much irrigation as well. Simple irrigation two or three times a year would do the trick; in that sense, it is draught resistant. Poppy cultivation, in contrast, would require an extensive irrigation plan – six times a year.    
Saffron has different uses and, in fact, makes life healthier. The common use of saffron can be found in adding flavor to dishes, preparing different types of medicines, hot drinks, appetizers and perfumes. Moreover, it has high demand in the international market as well.
According to market studies, regionally the price of saffron is around USD 5,000; while the international price may even reach to USD 7,000. This shows that it is very lucrative and can be used as one of the basic exports of Afghanistan. It is also important to mention that the demand for saffron is very high both in regional and international markets.
What Afghan authorities and people require in this regard is proper implementations of their policies to change the scenario. It is true that the producers of drugs have stronghold in our country, but unshakable decision both by government authorities and Afghan people can defeat them. If Afghan authorities are really interested in making saffron as the leading export of the country and controlling the menace of drugs and stopping it from financing terrorism and bringing sufferings and death to common Afghan people through addiction, it has to launch a comprehensive strategy for the growth, production and proper export of saffron. In addition, it must not be forgotten that the country will have to stand on its own as far as the economic stability and growth is concerned. Developing the cultivation and trade of saffron can support it in that regard to an unimaginable extent.