>> A group of women in the western Afghan city of Herat, work to separate orangish-red stigmas from purple flowers. This is saffron, the world's most expensive spice at about $1200 per kilo. Here at the Ariana Saffron factory, it's separated by hand, then dried, and finally packaged. According to the head of the company, Afghan saffron is fast gaining a reputation for its quality.
> There will be more job opportunities for women one work said, because all of the saffron works are women, and they take part in the harvesting process.
ill competition remains fierce from neighboring Iran. Afghanistan produces around 4 tons a year, compared to the more than 200 tons that Iran produces.
And after decades of war and lawlessness, the UN estimates that the opium trade is still bringing in about $3 billion a year. Back in Herat, female workers pick the flower in the delicate harvest process, which is only available for three weeks in October before the flower begins to die.
Besides it's profitability, another bright spot in a in a country struggling to get to it's feet, saffron cultivation provides paid work for women, who's employment is limited by social conventions.>>