In Herat province, Afghanistan, the Department of Agriculture and Livestock has announced a significant expansion of saffron cultivation, covering more than 8,000 hectares of land this year. It expects a bountiful harvest of up to 30 tons.
The occasion of the Saffron Flower Festival in Herat saw processing companies and saffron growers exhibiting their products in 40 booths. Pir Mohammad Halimi, the head of the agriculture and livestock department, noted that around 20,000 farmers are actively involved in the saffron sector in Herat, and this year’s yield is expected to surpass last year’s 20 tons.
Despite growing interest in saffron cultivation, challenges in export persist, and farmers like Jalil Ahmad Karimi stress the need for essential groundwork, including training programs and the establishment of a national brand, to support the growth of this valuable crop and prevent its export under foreign labels in Afghanistan.
Abdul Shukoor Ahrari, head of a saffron processing company in Herat, underscores the significance of participating in international expos, national-level events, and festivals to facilitate saffron trade.
This year, the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment reported exporting 21 tons of saffron, yielding substantial profits. Still, the Afghan National Saffron Growers Union noted the absence of a unique global brand for Afghan saffron.
Mohammad Yusof Amin, the Executive Director of the Chamber, disclosed that saffron exports in 2023 reached around 21,684 kilograms, valued at $21,561,000, with prominent destinations including India, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Spain.
Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, the head of Afghanistan’s National Saffron Growers Union, holds optimistic prospects for the saffron industry’s future.
He envisions improved access to more favourable markets and a heightened presence in European markets as critical objectives. Afghan saffron growers are keen to expand their reach and establish a strong foothold in the European market, recognizing its potential for growth and profitability.
With continued efforts and support, they aspire to make Afghan saffron a globally recognized and sought-after product, further boosting the nation’s economy and the livelihoods of its farmers.