Nawras Saffron offers job opportunities to hundreds of Balkh women

By Muhammad Qasem

The saffron industry is continuing to provide lucrative job opportunities for women and their families in Balkh province. Nawras Saffron, a private company in Balkh province, has created employment opportunities for nearly 200 women in cultivating, processing and packaging saffron products. [Courtesy of Shoaib Hamdard]

MAZAR-E-SHARIF -- The saffron industry is continuing to provide lucrative job opportunities for women in Balkh province.

Nawras Saffron, a private company in Balkh province, has created employment opportunities for almost 200 women.

"Fortunately, we were able to provide employment for 190 women in various fields including cultivating, processing and packaging saffron products so that they can economically become self-sufficient," said Sayed Zainullah Usmani, CEO of the company.

"Most employed women are educated, and we have hired them because they were jobless. As our saffron business grows, we will create opportunities to hire more women," he said.

In this video screenshot on November 30, female workers hold baskets full of saffron flowers in Nahr-e-Shahi district, Balkh province.

In this video screenshot on November 30, female workers hold baskets full of saffron flowers in Nahr-e-Shahi district, Balkh province.

The women started working in October and will continue for six months, he said, adding that the company pays them a monthly salary of 12,000 AFN ($137).

"Nawras is one of the biggest saffron-producing companies in Balkh province," he said. "Our sales reached 700kg last year. If the demand rises in the market, we can produce and sell up to one tonne of saffron this year."

The climate in Balkh is very conducive for saffron, he said.

He called on business owners to invest not only in producing saffron but also in exporting saffron.

Supporting women-led households

Mina Ahmadzai, 32, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif, who graduated from Balkh University's faculty of law and political science, works at Nawras Saffron.

"I managed to complete my studies despite many challenges, but there is no opportunity for me to serve my people and my country," she said. "I found no other choice but to work here as a labourer."

"Working in the saffron fields gives some hope for women to build a better future," she said. "I am very happy that I can serve my people and community while working in this field."

The creation of jobs on saffron farms is an opportunity for women's empowerment and self-sufficiency, said Kawsar Usmani, 24, another resident of Mazar-e-Sharif working at the company.

"I am happy that the saffron processing company has made it easy for us to work," she said. "Now that I work here, I can support myself and my family with the income I get."

"Working on saffron farms has allowed us to become a good financial supporter for our families," said Usmani, a high school graduate.

"We call on other organisations ... to help women and girls become self-sufficient so that they can support their families," she added.

If women are provided with opportunities, they can make a difference, Zarina Yaqoubi, 27, who also works at the Nawras Saffron processing centre in Balkh province, said.

"If women and girls work in various fields like in the past, they can improve their well-being and help reduce poverty at the household level," she said.

"Cultivating and harvesting saffron are appropriate employment for many women. Picking saffron flowers is a very easy task, and nobody feels exhausted," she added.

"I am very happy that I can work and support my family," she said.

Expanding saffron production

Almost 300 tonnes of saffron bulbs was distributed to farmers last year, and about 150kg of saffron was harvested from 80 hectares of land, according to officials at the Balkh Provincial Agriculture and Livestock Department.

"In order to promote saffron and increase its yield this year, saffron has been cultivated in an area of 120 hectares of land in Balkh province," said Mohammad Hossein Azimi, a spokesperson for the department. "We expect to see an increase of 250kg in saffron production this year."

"Saffron, in addition to Balkh province's centre, has been cultivated in Chamtal, Dawlatabad, Chahar Bolak, Nahr-e-Shahi and Balkh districts," he said. "Saffron needs little water and grows better in dry places."

Saffron is a very good alternative to poppy cultivation in Balkh, and farmers have been satisfied with its harvest every year, say provincial agriculture officials.

"Working outside the home reaffirms women's fight against restrictions," said Sadaf Khodayar, 46, an entrepreneur in Balkh province.

"No one can stop women from working," said Khodayar, who owns a handicraft business. "Work opportunities such as this give women the motivation to go out and work and become a financial partner in their household."

"Women should not confine themselves at home. They must come out and continue working as they did before," she added.

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Saffron is a useful herb. My big hope is that the dirty poppy plant disappears from Afghanistan forever. Poppy has given Afghans and Afghanistan a bad name. The most significant profit of the poppy trade goes to foreign countries, while its shame comes to Afghanistan. A few years ago, I read a report which said that $2 billion of the profit of Afghanistan's poppy goes to Afghanistan, and $60 billion of the profit goes to the pockets of people who transfer Afghanistan's poppy products to Western countries. The two billion dollars coming to Afghanistan are of little benefit to the farmers, and a large part of them goes to the pockets of internal smugglers. In other words, the farmers get very little profit. I request all Afghan farmers refrain from poppy cultivation. Plant saffron, plant hing, plant roses, ... and try not to make Afghanistan's name terrible and not make yourselves guilty. with regards


Millions of girls are deprived of education. There is fear in the country, and because girls cannot go to universities and courses, Taliban terrorists are standing in front of educational centers on alert. We need Even the illiterate can do these things. Let the world be united in our right. They do not send $40 million packages to the Taliban weekly for their interests. The Taliban government does not give them weapons; they do not support them. America has a two-faced policy. On the one hand, they are shouting to the Taliban about implementing the secret Doha agreement. On the other hand, they are saying to the Afghan people, stand by us; what kind of politics is this? Clearly, the Doha agreement made by the Taliban and the US said to take away the rights of the Afghan people.


Nawras Saffron company has been able to provide work for 190 women in exchange for 12,000 AFN monthly wages. Most of the women are educated. Women can provide for their family from this monthly income. This company grows saffron seeds instead of growing poppies in the agricultural land, and with this, it finds halal sustenance for itself, and it has created a field for Afghan workers. Another achievement of the Nawras Saffron company is that it has exported saffron in the name of Afghanistan to the world markets, which bolsters the good name of Afghanistan. This company was able to convert the agricultural lands of Balkh province from the cultivation of illegitimate poppy crops to the cultivation of halal saffron seeds. Nawras Saffron company is proud proud of this action.