The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said Thursday that saffron production has increased 22 percent in the country compared to last year.
According to statistics from the ministry this year, 19 tons of saffron were harvested from 37,500 acres of saffron crops in various provinces of the country.
Last year 16 tons of saffron were harvested in the country, the ministry said.
Akbar Rustami, a ministry spokesman says the saffron workers are expected to earn $27 million dollars.
“Herat is the largest producer of saffron. After Herat--Balkh, Kandahar, Sar-e Pul, Daikundi and Uruzgan Provinces have the most saffron crops and production,” said Rustami.
On the other hand, the National Union of Saffron Workers says that one kilogram of saffron is currently sold on the world market for up to $5,000 dollars, but due to the lack of standard packing and processing facilities for saffron in Afghanistan, the saffron exporters cannot sell the saffron for more than $1,500 dollars.
“We can sell every kilo of saffron for up to $3,000 in regional markets. But due to the current packaging that we have, we can't sell at this price, and right now our sales are not over $1,500 dollars,” said Nasir Azimi, member of the union.
More than 99 percent of saffron was harvested from Herat province fields. An agricultural expert says that to increase saffron production, the plant should be grown in provinces neighboring Herat.
“Other provinces, such as Farah and Nimroz, can become major saffron production centers in the country, but many farmers still do not know how saffron is grown and harvested. The problem is that saffron cultivation has not been properly promoted in these provinces,” said Mohammad Yasin Farahmand, agricultural expert.
According to National Saffron Workers Union statistics, one kilogram of saffron is currently sold from 40 to 55,000 Afghanis in domestic markets and up to $1,500 in Asian markets.
Officials in the union say if Afghanistan meets the European and American market standards for saffron packaging and processing, each kilogram of saffron will be sold for up to $5,000 in those markets.