Saffron cultivation has turned into good business for farmers in the northern Balkh province, especially for women who make 40 percent of those who are busy in cultivation of the spice to support their families economically.
A local official said that as part of efforts to improve the saffron cultivation, the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture distributed eight tons of saffron bulbs to farmers in five northern and northeastern provinces.
“We have 70 hectares of saffron fields and around 40 percent of woman farmers are busy in saffron cultivation,” said Mohammad Salim Saee, head of the agriculture directorate in Balkh.
A female farmer from Balkh, Khalida Nazari, said she started saffron cultivation four years ago and that her incomes have increased.
“I collected 20 grams of saffron in the first year, 35 grams in the second year, up to 50 grams in the third year and I will collect more this year,” she said.
Shazia Qasimi, a female farmer from Samangan province, said she is interested in saffron cultivation, therefore, she has visited Balkh to purchase saffron bulb.
“I started saffron cultivation eight years ago. It is a good business and it has improved my economy,” said Qasimi, a farmer from Balkh.
Figures by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock show that at least 200 women are busy in saffron cultivation in northern provinces who earn almost $500 from one jerib (0.2 hectares) of land.
Afghan saffron is considered among the best in the world and has scooped international awards on numerous occasions.
The western province of Herat is famous for saffron cultivation and processing.
Statistics show that Afghanistan produces 15 tons of saffron annually, most of which is produced in Herat province in the west of the country.