AFGHANISTAN. Herat: Afghanistan’s saffron is well-known all over the world because of its quality. The saffron has won three Golden Stars and was ranked as the ‘Best Saffron’ in the world by the International Taste Institute last month.
The institute has said that Afghanistan’s saffron process-related work has made a significant improvement and was ranked No.1 among dozens of countries. The saffron was ranked number one for the fourth time in a row. Commonly known as the ‘Red Gold’, saffron production in Afghanistan has multiplied manifolds in the past few years.
However, the saffron workers are disappointed with the profits obtained out of their work. The saffron workers in Herat said that there has been a drastic change in saffron prices.
Local investors buy saffron at lower prices
One kilogram of saffron in internal and local markets is sold at 40,000 Afghani ($517.47). The price is quite low when compared to the previous year where the price was around 100,000 Afghani ($1,293.67) per kilogram.
“Despite having this good feeling that our hand-product is ranked the number in the world, still, we have major challenges to be resolved. Our biggest challenge is the stalled cost of our product,” Abdul Shakor Hisar, a saffron worker from Herat told Transcontinental Times.
Another saffron worker, Ibrahim said, “We sell our Saffrons at a lower price to the internal investors and they sell it at a higher price abroad. We expect the government to establish direct communication between the foreign investors and us.”
No support from the Afghan government
Many saffron workers have said that the government is incapable of solving their problems. According to them, the introduction of Iran’s imported saffrons to the country’s markets has multiplied the negative impact of their products’ cost.
“We have applied some restrictions in the border with Iran regarding our imports and there are not many complaints as in the past, said Noor Ahmad Haidari, Herat’s deputy governor.
Saffron is predominantly cultivated in Herat, Faryab, and Balkh provinces. Herat Agriculture Department said, “24 years ago, in the years toward the end of the Taliban period in Afghanistan, when Saffron was an unknown plant, three farmers in Posht e Zarghun district of Herat, in Western Afghanistan, started cultivation of Saffron with the aid of a foreign organization.”
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Increase in productions
According to Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Afghanistan produced 12 metric tonnes of saffron during last year.
This year alone harvests and cultivation of saffron have increased highly with over 20 tonnes which according to the Herat agriculture department is more than 25 tonnes of the saffron harvest that will be produced in the new year.
Over 90% of Afghanistan’s saffron is produced in Herat. Statistics by the Herat agriculture department indicate that more than 20 thousand families are busy cultivating and harvesting saffron out of which women play a big and significant part.