The fifth National Saffron Conference titled ‘Production, Processing, Marketing’ was held yesterday by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in Kabul.
According to The Kabul Times correspondent, in the three-day conference attended by 200 representatives of donor countries, international organizations, domestic and foreign experts, improvement of saffron production in the country was discussed.
On the first day of the conference, acting minister of agriculture, irrigation and livestock Nasir Ahmad Durani spoke related to significance of the conference and said the production of saffron has increased, but further work needed to be done in processing and marketing of the product in the country.
“It is a good opportunity for Afghanistan as the international community has shown interest to help Afghanistan in agriculture sector in particular production of saffron. This year the total land cultivated for saffron has increated from 2,500 acres to over 3,000 acres and that production will increase by 20 percent comparing to last year,” said Durani.
He asserted that nearly 18,000 farmers were engaged in production of saffron in the country and got $ 9 million income last year, adding that it was estimated that Afghanistan would get $ 12 million income this year.
Meanwhile, advisor to MAIL on saffron Mohammad Hashim Aslami told participants in the conference most of farmers in Herat were cultivating saffron and getting more incomes.
Pointing to north-eastern, central and western provinces of the country, Aslami added that Faryab, Mazar-e-Sharif, Sar-e-Pul, Parwan, Kabul and Logar were those provinces where saffron was cultivated.
Agriculture, irrigation and livestock ministry officials urged the representatives and foreign experts to help Afghanistan in standardizing saffron cultivation, packaging, process and marketing.
Despite the opportunities and easiness in cultivation and production of saffron, there are challenges in exporting the product. The agriculture ministry last year drew up the National Saffron Strategy to increase saffron cultivation to 4,000 acres of land and its production to 14 tons within the next five years.
It is worth mentioning that similar national saffron conference has been also held for improvement of saffron cultivation in the country in past years in Kabul.