Afghan farmers have harvested 13 tons of saffron this year compared to last year’s 10 tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).
The ministry had predicted 14 tons a year by 2021, which is an easily reachable target given the current growth in saffron production.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) reported that saffron export has also increased this year.
From the 10.6 tons of saffron harvested last year up to 8 tons have been exported.
According to ACCI second deputy head Yunus Mohmand, five tons of the exported saffron were to Saudi Arabia through the air corridor over the past five months.
More than 12 tons of this year’s saffron harvest came from western Herat province.
Saffron was primarily produced in Herat province where farmers proved that saffron cultivation could replace poppy production as a lucrative means of income. Herat province currently produces more than 90% of Afghanistan’s saffron.
The plant is drought resistant and only needs irrigation twice or three times a year, compared to poppy plants irrigated six times a year. Another advantage is that growing saffron is legal in Islam, unlike poppy that is prohibited.
It is normally cultivated in summer and collected in the last month of fall. It is used in making medicines, adding flavor to food, appetizers, and hot drinks and making perfume. It grows best in areas with light winter weather and dry, hot summers.