FEROZKOH CITY (Pajhwok): Farmers in western Ghor province have started growing asafetida as a substitute to poppy after the caretaker government banned the illicit crop.
The interim government has banned cultivation of poppy all over the country. Through a decree, the government has also banned trafficking, import and export of all kinds of drugs.
Abdul Azim, a farmer from Dolina district, who had come to Ferozkoh city to purchase asafetida seed and grow it on his 1.5 acres of land, hoped to earn more and legal income from asafetida than poppy.
Abdul Azim told Pajhwok Afghan News: “The price of asafetida is higher than opium, asafetida is better than poppy, so I allocated a part of my land for growing the medicinal plant and I hope to get some legitimate income”.
“The climate of our province is more suitable for asafetida. People’s interest has grown this year. I invested over 200,000 afs in growing asafetida”, Azim said.
Hafizullah Hakimi, another farmer who has already grown asafetida on his one acre land, said: “Many farmers have turned to growing asafetida and so I was encouraged to allocate an acre of land for growing asafetida, I hope to get some good chunk of income”.
He said he brought a kilogram of asafetida seen for over 30,000 afs in Ferozkoh city.
Farmers of Ghor province expect assistance from the Agriculture and Livestock department after shunning poppy.
Agricultural specialists say asafetida is an important medical herb that has a high value.
Sherzad, one of agricultural specialists, said: “The interest of farmers in growing the plant has increased during the past two years, the plant is used in medicines. A kilogram of its seeds is sold for up to 30,000 afs while each kilogram of harvest is sold for up to 45,000 afs”.
“Its bushes become ready to yield asafetida after four years, the stems are cut down close to the root, and a milky juice flows out”, Sherzad said.
However, the experts blamed the Agricultural Department for asafetida’s slow popularization among people and stressed the officials concerned should encourage farmers to grow asafetida as a good alternative to poppy.
Provincial officials say they along with some other relevant organizations will try to encourage farmers to cultivate more asafetida.
Mohammad Zaman Qutaiba, a senior official of the provincial Agricultural Department, said: “Asafetida is literally a good herb, it is halal and valuable, many farmers grow it, our department and other relevant institutions are trying to provide more support to the farmers”.