Afghan saffron won the world's first-place title for the third consecutive year.
Afghanistan has the best environmental conditions for cultivating saffron and Herat province continues to produce the best saffron in the world.
Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi, the Deputy of the Agriculture Department in Herat, confirmed that the International Institute for Taste and Quality Assessment of Food Stuffs in Brussels awarded Herat's saffron as the world's best among 300 different kinds at a competition held in Italy.
Mr. Ahmadi praised the diligence of Herat's farmers. "This achievement belongs to all of our farmers who have chosen to grow Halal crops and their hard work and dedication should be celebrated. We are thankful that the international community appreciates our saffron and recognizes it as the best." Saffron has again proven it is the best alternative to the cultivation of illegal crops in Afghanistan, providing Herat farmers with a substantial income.
Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, the head of the Saffron Union in Herat, said that the saffron industry is rapidly expanding, employing many locals including women. "There are more than 650 farmers working on saffron farms, mostly in the districts of Ghorian, Pashton Zarghon, and Enjil. Currently, twenty-three companies are registered in the Saffron Union working in the production and processing of saffron," Mr. Rashidi said. "Women have the main role in the cultivation of saffron, with 8 women's saffron associations, each having more than 100 members working with this crop."
The exotic spice is increasingly used as an added ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has medicinal applications that makes it a much sought-after in the world market.
According to Mr. Rashidi, the popularity of saffron is also growing in Afghanistan. "The demand for saffron has increased in the recent years, and now people in our country understand its value and its multiple uses," he said. "A kilogram of high-quality saffron in Afghanistan is 120,000 Afghanis while the cost on the world market is much higher."
Saffron is one of the many legal crops that can bring Afghan farmers Halal income aligning their livelihood with the values defined by Islamic teaching.