The government has started efforts to promote cultivation of medicinal plant asafetida, deemed as poppy substitute, in southern Helmand province, provincial Agriculture and Livestock Department officials said.
Engineer Mohammad Aslam Bashardost, the head of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department, said the agriculture department grew asafetida in Helmand province three years ago as a pilot project and it had good outcome and they had started efforts to encourage farmers towards cultivation of asafetida this year.
He said their research showed the climate of Helmand was very suitable for growing asafetida and they expected many farmers would grow the plant this year.
Meanwhile, farmers asked the agriculture department to give them awareness about growing asafetida.
Since decades, poppy was cultivated in Helmand province, formerly the world’s largest opium producing region, but after the takeover of the Islamic Emirate, poppy or any other drugs were banned.
The Agriculture and Livestock Ministry has been trying to promote alternative crops for poppy.