Herat Holds Saffron Festival Amid Banner Year for Spice Business

Both crop yield and international demand are increasing for Afghan saffron.

Over 40 shops displayed saffron and saffron-made food at the fifth Saffron Flower Festival, which began on Sunday and ends Tuesday.

The festival comes amid a very successful saffron harvest as well as steadily increasing international demand.

Herat’s agriculture officials said they expect that saffron production will reach 18 tons in Herat this year–two tons more than last year.

“Qualitatively, we are the first in the world, and for quantity, we are the third-largest saffron producer in the world, ”said Nasir Ahmad Durrani, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). “Our plan is to be the second-largest producer of saffron in the world.”

The price of each kilogram of saffron in Herat is about AFs 70,000 (over $900) and last year it was AFs 40,000 (almost $500).

According to officials, one of the main reasons behind the increase in saffron exports is the opening of “air corridors” between Afghanistan and India as well as China and Turkey.

China, India, US, Europe and Arab countries are the primary buyers of the country’s saffron so far this year, according to officials.

“Last year, 90 percent of Afghanistan’s saffron was sent outside the country, and this year our export amount is higher than last year’s,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of the National Saffron Union.

“The hike in the saffron prices is because of an increase in the exports of the spice,” said Nasir Azimi, member of the union.

The farmers in Herat are pleased with the increase in the harvest.

“The situation is very good. Every year our experience is increasing and we can produce higher quality saffron,” said Abdul Khaliq Khudadadi, a saffron seller.

Herat is one of the largest provinces in Afghanistan and produces the most saffron. This year 7,000 hectares of land in the province were planted with saffron bulbs.

Source: Tolo News