Quality saffron poised to spice up Afghanistan’s exports (en)

5 marzo 2020
ITC Noticias
The International Trade Centre has translated a guide about saffron into Dari to help Afghanistan gain a bigger share of lucrative international markets

As part of its support to Afghanistan’s national export strategy and targeted training programmes to raise the quality of the country’s saffron, the International Trade Centre (ITC) has made available a guide in the local language Dari.

Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, offers great potential for Afghan producers and exporters. Developing a consistent brand for quality is the key to unlocking a ‘red gold’ rush, a priority sector of Afghanistan’s national export strategy.

‘Quality management is a fast-moving, complex issue. Getting the information out in Dari will help farmers and exporters immensely,’ said ITC acting Executive Director Dorothy Tembo. ‘This is essential because saffron is a sector with high potential to create jobs for women and youth, especially in rural areas.’

The new Dari-language saffron guide, called ‘At a Glance – Red Gold Rush: Managing Saffron Quality for Afghan Exports’, summarizes how to build a quality saffron sector for markets in Europe, India and China. It provides both concise technical information and policy recommendations.

The Afghanistan National Standards Authority and ITC launched the guide in Kabul as part of the push to produce high-quality saffron, with training on ISO 22000 (Food Safety Management) and ISO 19011 (Auditing Management Systems) for local producers, exporters, associations and government officials. Meeting ISO standards is a prerequisite for entering lucrative saffron markets.

Unlocking the ‘red gold’ rush

The world’s most expensive spice could bring major economic and social advantages to the country – provided the country’s farmers and exporters ensure the consistent high quality that international markets demand.

Saffron is susceptible to contamination and counterfeiting. To meet obligations set by regulatory authorities and buyers, producers, processors and exports must meet a range of obligations, from plant health to food safety and traceability.

‘The guide is prepared based on the needs of saffron producers,’ said Hashim Aslami, Senior Adviser of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in Afghanistan, and secretary of its saffron development committee. ‘This guide will help all saffron stakeholders improve quality according to international standards.’

Afghanistan’s National Saffron Growers Union, which is participating in the quality management training, is exploring distribution in Herat, where saffron growers are concentrated. The guide is also available on the websites of the Afghanistan Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Afghanistan National Standards Authority and Afghan National Saffron Authority.

The guide supports training to improve local skills for processing, sorting, grading and exporting, and addresses mandatory and voluntary standards for saffron. It also calls for a testing laboratory in Herat.

ITC is also delivering training as part of the European Union-funded Advancing Afghani Exports programme, and its Ethical Food and Fashion Initiative in Afghanistan. These projects complement the Afghanistan National Export Strategy 2018–2022, which singles out saffron as a priority for development.

The extensive version of the guide spells out how the country can develop a brand identity synonymous with high quality, as well as social and environmental sustainability.

Dari version: At a Glance – Red Gold Rush: Managing Quality for Afghan Saffron Exports
English summary: At a Glance – Red Gold Rush: Managing Quality for Afghan Saffron Exports
English full version: Red Gold Rush: Managing Quality for Afghan Saffron Exports

The publication comes hot on the heels of ITC’s support to Afghanistan’s newly launched national trade policy aimed at spurring growth and creating jobs by boosting the export capacities of the country’s private sector to trade with regional and global markets.