Pajhwok Afghan News

Growers view asafoetida as alternative to poppies


TIRINKOT (Pajhwok): Growers in central Uruzgan province say asafoetida, if properly marketed, could be a good alternative to poppy cultivation.

The cultivation of asafoetida, a medicinal herb and one of Afghanistan’s key exports, has been under consideration for nearly a decade.

Farmers turned to growing the medicinal plant after the caretaker government announced a ban on poppy cultivation.

Uruzgan growers initiated the cultivation of asafoetida this year for the first time.

Rahimullah, a resident of the Talani area of Tirinkot, said he had been growing poppies for many years. But this year, he started growing asafoetida on half an acre of land for the first time.

He hopes for a bumper crop and a good price for his produce in the market.

Experience shows asafoetida, which grows well in Uruzgan’s climate. but its cultivation needs special efforts from farmers.

He urged the government to work harder for the cultivation of the herb and finding a good marked for the produce.

Saifullah is another farmer from Tirinkot who has grown asafoetida and hopes to get a handsome income from it.

Saifullah called for the authorities and other relevant institutions to arrange professional training on asafoetida cultivation and provide farmers other facilities as well.

He blamed the previous government for providing farmers just saffron seeds as an alternative to opium poppies. As the government did not pay heed to its marketing, he claimed, growers suffered losses.

If the issue of asafoetida marketing was not addressed, he warned, farmers would be forced to resume poppy cultivation.

It is the first time farmers in Uruzgan province have cultivated asafoetida on 50 acres of land, provincial officials say.

Eng. Qudratullah Hamidi, a senior agriculture official, told Pajhwok Afghan News there were different varieties of asafoetida seeds, but Uruzgan farmers cultivated the the Afghan and Tajik types.

Asafoetida could be grown in two ways — sowing its seeds or planting its saplings, Hamidi said, elaborating the herb was harvested after four years.

The agriculture department was committed to finding a gainful market for asafoetida, the official said.

Asafoetida is a herb which is used in manufacture of some medicines. But some people also use it to make meals more delicious.


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