MAIL announces a dramatic increase in saffron cultivation and production in 2016 in Afghanistan.
The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Mr. Asadullah Zamir announced at a press conference at the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) that Saffron cultivated areas have been increased by 250% reaching to 2811 hectares of land. The coverage areas from the past 15 years were 1020 hectares. This year alone 1791 hectares new land has been cultivated- demonstrates that Afghan farmers are now producing more legal produce than ever. He said saffron cultivation has expanded to 31 provinces from only one a few years ago.
“With effective management and strong efforts of MAIL, saffron cultivation has been doubled compared to last year—from 1020H of land last year to 2811Hof land this year”, said Minister Asadullah Zamir
The increase in saffron production is a result of continued technical, financial and training support provided by MAIL to Afghan farmers, according to the Minister. He called on all Afghan farmers to grow legal crops instead of poppy and turn this country into a poppy free country. Not only is this a major economic and agricultural achievement, but this announcement has significant security implications too.
Addressing farmers directly, Minister Zamir said; “By growing legal crop, you will make more money, gain government support and work on your land without any fear from law enforcement agencies.” The cultivation of saffron will allow the afghan National Security forces to concentrate their efforts elsewhere and will deprive the enemies of Afghanistan of a major source of revenue.
The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is determined to assist Afghan farmers by providing financial support, machinery, cold storage, seeds, training, and new processing methods all of which will pave the way for Afghan farmers to export their products outside Afghanistan.
The opening of the railway between Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and People’s Republic of China is a clear example of Afghan Government’s commitment to supporting the export of Afghan produce. Saffron is one of the products, that will be regularly exported to China using this railway, and will benefit from decreased the transportation costs and faster supply chains.
In May 2016, a senior Afghan delegation visited China to sign six agreements and MOUs with the People’s Republic of China aiming to boost business and diplomatic relationship between the two countries. One of these agreements was signed on the production and export of Afghan saffron to China.
Based on this agreement, China will support Afghan saffron production and will facilitate its export to China. It is believed that China, having the biggest population in the world, is a key market for Afghan saffron.
Afghan farmers began growing saffron in 2001. This year, Afghan farmers produced almost six metric tons of saffron. Afghanistan’s saffron was also named the best saffron in the world for a third time. The International Taste & Quality Institute Brussels, Belgium awarded the accolade after examining some 300 samples earlier this year.