KABUL: The Iranian officials have expressed concerns regarding the growing cultivation and production of saffron in Afghanistan, saying the country has turned into a serious rival endangering the saffron industry in Iran.
Iran’s Saffron Exports Development Fund board of directors’ member Farhad Saharkhiz quoted by the local IRNA news agency said saffron production in Afghanistan has turned into a serious rival for the Iran saffron exports, claiming that the rise in Afghan saffron production is due to the legal and illegal shipments of saffron bulbs from Iran.
He also claimed that Afghanistan has received enough saffron bulbs between 2005 and 2013, making the country self-sufficient in terms of saffron cultivation.
This comes as efforts are underway to boost the saffron cultivation and production in Afghanistan in a bid to eliminate the opium cultivation.
Afghanistan produces high quality saffron mainly cultivated in the western provinces of the country although efforts are underway to start the cultivation in other provinces having suitable environment and weather for the cultivation of saffron.
The Afghan saffron for the third time secured the first place in the world last year.
The officials in the ministry of agriculture and livestock said around 3.5 tons of saffron were produced last year.
The officials further added that the government will step up efforts to increase the production to at least four tons a year in coming five years. -KP