Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MoAIL)said Saturday that saffron cultivation has spread from 20 provinces to 26 in the past year. While the Ministry reported Heart as the most productive of the saffron cultivating provinces, officials recognized an increase in productivity across the board.
Mohammad Asif Rahim, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock said more than 4,000 kg of Saffron has already been exported to foreign countries this year, with each kilogram selling for between $5,000-$6,000.
Back in June, the International Taste and Quality Institute based in Brussels rated the product of the Afghan Saffron Company the highest quality amongst companies from 16 competitor countries around the world. Saffron, the only common spice harvested from a flower, is considered the most expensive spice on the market.
The MoAIL said that more and more farmers are interested in starting saffron cultivation due to the high yields and lucrative profits associated with the industry. The Ministry helps many farmers looking to break into saffron cultivation with initial bundles of corms – bulb storage organ of the saffron flower – and provides facilities for the farmers to train and develop methods for more abundant harvests.
"Every year we are buying from 50 to 100 tons of saffron corms from Herat and distributing them to other provinces," said Mr. Rahimi. "Our survey shows the saffron cultivation has increased in more than 20 provinces..."
Last year's total harvest was around 4,000 tons, but the Ministry expects a marked increase from that this year.
Afghanistan 's mild to cold winters and relatively dry summers are ideal for saffron cultivation, and the financial rewards from the highly sought after spice are enticing. The price of one kilogram of processed saffron in Afghanistan is up to $3,000 and regionally it can reach as high as $6,000. The international price of saffron can reach up to $8,000