Farmers in southeastern Paktika province want the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to provide saffron seeds and training programmes for them.
Growers in the provincial capital of Sharan are willing to get saffron seeds and be trained on cultivation techniques as an alternative to growing poppies.
They had stopped growing the illicit crop, a farmer from the Sra Qala area of Sharan, Haji Syed Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
But he accused the government of paying no attention to the agriculture sector in Paktika. He said they needed training courses and saffron seeds.
“I have 500 acres of land irrigated through a water pump and the Karez system. I cultivate only wheat, alfalfa, clover and maize,” said a grower from the Sadu village of Mata Khan district, Hajji Rasul.
Climatic conditions in the region are favourable for growing saffron, he said, hoping a switch from poppies to this crop would be fruitful.
Agriculture officials promised him they would discuss the issue of providing saffron seeds and conduct training courses for the farmers with the ministry concerned, but they are yet to take any step in this regard.
“The climate of Paktika is suitable for the cultivation of saffron,” said another resident of Sharan, Khorasan Zaratwal, who has 65 years of experience in agriculture.
They had conveyed growers’ demands with the ministry, insisted acting Director of Agriculture Sohbat Khan.