Cultivation of Medicinal Plants; Treatment Instead of Pain


Three years ago, when the security forces queued for crackdown on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh, in Nangarhar districts, the 33-year old Sabruddin (alias name) was walking along side of his field ridge and watering his field.

Right on the other side of Sabruddin’s field, some other locals had cultivated opium poppy.
The cultivation, which was eventually destroyed by security forces near the harvest, but Sabruddin’s cultivation field grew even greener and more fruitful, generating abundant hopes more than ever. 

Sabruddin has a factory in Sorkh Road district of Nangarhar province where 25 people work in his factory. They process the medical plants (herbal plants) which they have collected and produce Glycyrrhiza glabra (family fabaceae) from them.

Sabruddin says that Mentha Piperita is one of their famous products, mostly used to dissolve stones in kidney.

In the second year of his work, Sabruddin’s factory, and his friends stopped cultivating poppy and started planting medical plants, the move which produced better income for them.

Sabruddin when saw that others have cultivated poppy, asked himself: “Can I cultivate something to improve human’s health rather than poppy to harm people’s health and addict youths? He could easily find the answer for his question and realized that cultivating medical plants and producing traditional therapeutic substances was the best choice and decision_ which he did it.

This narrative is not the only story of Sabruddin’s turning away from poppy cultivation, but there are many other role models who have earned lots of income by creating fruit gardens, starting livestock, and other new things instead of poppy cultivation.

Sabruddin though works on medical herbs such as peppermint, nigella sativa, and alhagi, but these substances have domestic usage and is used to cure different diseases and pains.

Sher Mohammad, resident of Kabul’s Khair Khana who has bought a bottle of alhagi liquid (sweat), says that he always uses it for his kidney disease. Sher Mohamad said, “A bottle of alhagi liquid makes my kidney comfortable for a month, and I buy it again once the bottle is finished.”

4,000 Hectares of New Medical Plants

It should also be said that, in accordance with the plans of the Ministry of Agriculture, in 1398 (2019), 4,000 hectares of medical plants will be restored by the ministry in order to increase the amount of medical plants and increase its export.

Export of Medical Plants

The main part of Afghanistan’s medical plants are herbs which are being exported to be used for making medicines and drugs.

According to new and official statistics, in 2018, Afghanistan’s third position in the exports was medical plants (herbal plants), which are mostly therapists and used in pharmacy.

Data from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce shows that medical plants have formed the most important export item of Afghanistan after Afghan handwoven rugs and Karakul skin respectively_ 13 percent of Afghanistan’s total exports.

Hing (hingvashtak) and Glycyrrhiza glabra are among the most important medical plants exported from Afghanistan to other countries.

Afghanistan’s medical plants includes Hing, Glycyrrhiza glabra, nigella sativa, caraway, and dozens of other herbs which are mostly used in making various drugs and medicines.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce says that in 2018 (1397 Solar Year) Afghanistan exported medical herbs worth 110 million USD. Sameer Rasa, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said that Afghanistan’s third position in the exports was medical plants (herbal plants).

Mr. Rasa added that medical plants exports counted for 13 percent of Afghanistan’s total exports in 2018, generating 110 million USD income for Afghanistan; most of which have been exported to India.

Hing (hingvashtak) plant is mostly cultivated in Badakhshan, Takhar, and north eastern provinces of the country and mostly used in making drugs and medicines.

India, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and France are among the countries that import medical plants from Afghanistan.