Economy, Domestic Economy

Saffron Harvest and Beyond

Saffron Harvest and BeyondSaffron Harvest and Beyond

Saffron harvest will start in October, says deputy minister of agricultural Jihad Mitra Majdzadeh. The official, however, noted that the precise time of harvest will depend on the climate conditions such as temperature, Mehr News Agency reported.

The major saffron growing regions in South Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces which account for 95% of the country’s production have been hit by strong heat waves in the current crop year.

“The ministry has offered measures to both provinces’ Agricultural Jihad Organizations so as to prevent damages,” she said.

Majdzadeh also referred to a joint program between United Nations Industrial Development Organization and Iran’s Bank Keshavarzi (Agriculture) in both provinces, noting that with regards to the presence of UNIDO experts in the saffron growing regions and their training, the ministry expects improvement in production.

Cooperation with UNIDO stated last fall with the aim of improving saffron value chain including production, processing, export and marketing, which is implemented in 21 areas of the two provinces and will go on for four years.

Under the program 21 supervisors and experts give cultivators the necessary training related to the harvesting, promotion, increasing efficiency and preservation of quality of the plant in different farming stages based on research and scientific findings.

  Raising the Stakes

Iran holds the grand title of “World’s Biggest Producer of Saffron” but it has fallen short of grabbing another prestigious title, i.e. “World’s Biggest Trader of Saffron”. Raw material export of saffron is a challenge the country has been grappling with for years; a challenge which has resulted in a reduction of domestic consumption of this medicinal herb in addition to denying the farmers its greater profits. This comes as experts believe the main profit in saffron production is in saffron processing, packaging and developing other products from it.

Iran hasn’t made much of an inroad into saffron branding worldwide, says the first deputy head of Saffron National Council, Mohsen Ehtesham, adding that branding and packaging would present business opportunities and help create jobs and generate substantial returns and added value.

Studies show that grading and the origin of saffron are the main indices when it comes to its pricing. Currently each kilogram of saffron is sold at $1,660-$2,330. Sorting and packaging will increase an additional 30% to its value; however, Iranians have deprived themselves of this profit, Forsat-e Emrooz reported.

In fact, investment in the branding and packaging sector is easy. A company would rake it in by first conducting research on potential export markets and customers’ tastes and preferences and tapping into modern marketing tools and then building a brand among world saffron traders by printing Iran’s name on its packaging.

Also, products such as saffron flavored chewing gum, saffron effervescent tablets, saffron flavored tea, yogurt and salad seasoning are among numerous products which present investment opportunities.

“Indigenization of methods employed in countries like Spain and France in saffron processing would prove effective in Iran given the fact that we have access to superior and by far more raw materials,” Ehtesham says.