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An update on Afghanistan

Photo by Farzana Wahidy

9 August 2021

In Afghanistan, August is when the seeds of saffron are sown for harvesting in November. 

We are so grateful to be part of a project which supports entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, made possible by the Ethical Fashion Initiative, bridging cultures through this enchanting and powerful spice. As many of you know, Saffron brings a joy and vibrancy to any meal or potion.

However, the golden threads of saffron are as delicate as the land that they are gown upon, and the political situation that has dominated this region.

During these uncertain times in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has made swift territorial gains over the last two months, including near to Herat, where we source Golden Saffron. We are keeping a close eye on the developments, and our hearts go out to all the Afghan people and we pray for their safety, freedom and happiness.

The mulberry tree, which is planted alongside saffron, protects the fragile plants and the people in rural Afghanistan, from the arid and windy climate. Grown together, they help to stabilise the soil and retain water in an environment that is increasingly under threat from climate change. They also provide year-round income for the farmers as the saffron and mulberry produce realises its value at different times through the year. 

The mulberry trees of Afghanistan have survived decades of conflict yet continue to bear their sweet fruit with each year that passes. Like the trees, the people have been through so much and still not lost hope.

Nature's example gives us hope that in these testing times there can be a bright future and we hope that we can continue to support Afghan saffron long into the future. 

 

10 October 2021

Little over a month has past since Afghanistan's leadership disintegrated into the hands of the Taliban. We have been following the situation closely through a variety of news channels to get our own perspective on what this truly means for Afghanis.

The media campaign from the Taliban has been particularly interesting, keen to show acceptance and a continuation of normal life. Ever a complex place, the Taliban had control in many areas of Afghanistan well before the resurgence and people's acceptance had long been gained from what our contacts tell us. 

But acceptance is what the western world is being portrayed. Whether to make us believe that the situation has calmed and that life goes on, or so that new ties can be established, I am unsure.

A sceptic in me will say that this more positive outlook is to help support for US and Taliban talks which start today in Qatar, despite the US government's haphazard exit from the country. 

But a positive mindset must prevail to allow these talks and for foreign pressure to keep an eye on inclusivity, especially regarding women's rights and education. We understand that many of the women in the saffron plantations have yet to return to work in fear of punishment and so production has fallen to a standstill. 

We do however, also hear of acts of kindness and thoughtfulness from governments and NGOs who have worked tirelessly to ensure safe passage for citizens who live under threat. One such organization is the ERE Foundation, led by Sabrina Herzog and Stefan Dotter, who have secured 8 Afghan photographer's resettlement.