December 16, 2017

Saffron cultivation to replace opium in Helmand province

By Mirwais Adeel - Tue Jan 15 2013, 9:02 pm

Afghan SaffronAccording to local authorities i southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, positive results were achieved during the research period of Saffron cultivation in this province and provincial agriculture department is expecting to prevent opium cultivation after encouraging Saffron cultivation.

Saffron which is also known as Red Gold in Afghanistan has a very good global market demand which has recently attracted the attention of the Afghan farmers.

It is cultivated in moderate weather and requires less water and chemical fertilizers as compared to other vegetables, which can provide a good income for the Afghan farmers.

Provincail agriculture department officials are saying that they are looking to encourage Saffron cultivation in 11 districts of southern Helmand province in next Afghan year and will train Afghan farmers.

Head of the agriculture department for Helmand province Eng. Abdullah Ahmadzai said the research program on Saffron cultivation in Helmand province proved to be very positive and they are considering to start Saffron cultivation by next Afghan year.

Mr. Ahmadzai said the agriculture department is looking to provide Saffron cultivation facilities for over 40 farmers in each district and the governemnt will assist the farmers economically.

He said Saffron has good income as compared to other agricultural products and therefore they are expecting to reduce opium cultivation in this province.

Afghanistan has been facing the issue of drought over the past years however Saffron cultivation will require less water but the farmers in Helmand province are saying that the program will become effective only if the government provide market for the Saffron.

Saffron has cultivated in a number of provinces of Afghanistan which provides more earnings to Afghan farmers. Majority of the Afghan Saffron is cultivated in western Herat province of Afghanistan but there are concerns that Saffron with low quality and price is imported in Afghanistan which can be a major threat towards the Saffron cultivation in the country.

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  1. Instead of experimenting with new crops for the farmers like saffron, why not start by supporting the market for the second largest cash crop in the region in the 1970s which the farmers continue to cultivate and have been begging for help with marketing since 1997 as a possible alternative to opium poppy. There is a functioning cotton gin in Lashkar Gah for processing the cotton that needs help and support to process this well known crop which has not been getting any support from the government or the foreign community, as the international cotton market has been hitting all time highs. Why???

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