Afghans Look to Middle East as Promising Market for Premium Saffron

Mon May 08 2023
icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp

KABUL: Afghan farmers and exporters are targeting Middle East’s markets for the sale of their renowned saffron, the world’s most prized and expensive spice, as they anticipate a successful harvest season.

Renowned as “red gold,” saffron is a highly sought-after ingredient used for its distinctive flavor and vibrant color in numerous cuisines across Asia and the Middle East.

Afghanistan has long been celebrated for producing the world’s finest saffron, characterized by its exceptional taste and fragrance over the past two decades.

Priced at approximately $1,000 per kilo, Afghan saffron is not only renowned for its quality but also offers a more affordable option compared to its main competitors, Iran and Spain.

Abdul Salaam Akhundzada, spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, highlighted the growing interest from Arab and Western countries in importing Afghan saffron.

Many countries have been interested in importing Afghan saffron as it ranks first in the world with its best quality.”

According to data from the ministry, Afghanistan exported 51,096 kg of saffron in 2022, with India being the primary recipient within the region.

However, there is substantial potential for market expansion in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE due to the superior quality and competitive pricing of Afghan saffron.

Both the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Afghan farmers are optimistic about increased saffron exports following the upcoming harvest season in autumn.

Saffron flowers are flourishing across the spice-cultivating regions of the country, particularly in provinces such as Herat, Nimroz, Badghis, Ghor, and Helmand.

Growth of Afghan saffron exports to Middle East

Haji Himat, director of Shahana Afghan Saffron, a leading saffron producer in Kabul, expressed confidence in the growth of Afghan saffron exports to Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Himat highlighted the significant demand for saffron in Gulf countries and the interest shown by investors in creating markets for Afghan saffron.

However, the potential for Afghan saffron exports to the Gulf region has been hampered by the economic sanctions imposed on Afghanistan by Western countries following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. These restrictions have impacted saffron exports, limiting the sector’s growth potential.

Despite the challenges, Himat emphasized Afghanistan’s unique advantages for saffron production, including fertile soil, high-quality water, and a dry climate.

Afghan saffron farmers and exporters are eagerly looking forward to expanding their presence in Middle Eastern markets, leveraging the superior quality and affordability of their saffron to establish a strong foothold in the region’s culinary industry.

icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp