Saffron seen as good alternative to poppies in Helmand
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Officials said on Monday research showed that saffron could be a better alternative to the banned poppy crop in southern Helmand province, the world’s largest opium-producing region.
Their research over the past year indicated that climatic and soil conditions in the province were conducive to saffron cultivation, Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Director Eng. Abdullah Ahmadzai told Pajhwok Afghan News they were conducting.
“We have already trained almost 400 growers on cultivating saffron and another 200 will be taught how to optimise the crop yield. On completion of the training process, the farmers will be provided seeds,” Ahmadzai said.
In areas that are unfit for saffron cultivation, growers will be given other crop seeds, in an effort to wean them for growing poppies, according to the director.
The research branch head at the agriculture department, Abdul Manan, said farmers had promised to cultivate saffron instead of poppies if it yielded satisfactory results in districts. “According to our research, half an acre could yield one kilogram of saffron, which has market value of $2,000 (98,600 afs).”
They had been given proper training on growing saffron, said Shireen Jan, a farmer from Nawa district. He hoped that the government would help them find a good market for the produce.
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