Badakhshan farmers ditch poppies in favor of asafetida

KABUL (Agencies): Badakhshan’s department of agriculture and livestock officials said that in the past year, more than 5,000 hectares of land has been used in the province to cultivate asafetida – in a move away from poppy farming.
According to local officials, there has been a marked increase in cultivating asafetida among farmers.
“In (solar year) 1401, about 5,000 to 5,200 hectares of land were used to plant asafetida in Badakhshan province and people’s interest is very high,” said Nisar Ahmad Mahir, head of the agriculture directorate in Badakhshan.
Farmers in Badakhshan also say they have switched to cultivating asafetida instead of poppies over the past few years.
Asafetida is the resin collected from the ferula plant and is widely used for medicinal purposes. Farmers meanwhile
earn more money from asafetida than from
other crops.
“In the past, opium was cultivated on these lands, and now we have planted asafetida seeds instead. We imported one hundred kilograms of asafetida seeds from Tajikistan,” said a farmer.
“We no longer grow opium because it is forbidden and harmful,” said another farmer.
Meanwhile, the anti-narcotics management officials in Badakhshan have said that they have started a campaign to destroy poppy fields and so far, they have cleared nearly five hundred acres of poppies in Jurm and Argo districts.