Good Saffron is a platform to increase the market access of 180,000 smallholder saffron farmer who are producing 80% of the saffron consumed in the whole world.
World’s saffron production, 2013/2014, in tones – Source: FAO and World Bank
(1) Saffron commonly known as red gold, is the most expensive spice in the world.
(2) Saffron value has been kept high by its labor-intensive harvesting method which requires around 540,000 delicate red strands to be hand-picked from 180,000 flowers for each Kg.
(3) The undisputed capital for saffron production of the world is Khorasan region in Iran.
Saffron statistics of Khorasan, Iran:
- Hectares under saffron farming: 80,000 ha
- Average farm area: 4,000 to 5,000 m2
- Number of smallholder farmers: 180,000
- Jobs created: 20,000,000 work-day/year
(Mainly during harvest season)
- Annual saffron production: 250MT
- Value of saffron produced: 400 Million USD
- Percentage of saffron exported: 90%
- Number of countries exported to: over 50
Climate change and water crisis in Khorasan, Iran:
- Average rainfall in Qaen, a city in Southern Khorasan, famous for its high quality saffron and the hometown of Good Saffron Platform founders: 120 mm
- Average rainfall in Iran: 250 mm
- Agriculture sector is responsible for more than 90% of water usage.
- Average annual level of underground water drop in last 10 years in Qaen, Southern Khorasan (the saffron farming region we are starting with): 50 cm
Desertification is happening all over Iran including Khorasan region.
Photo: Mo Qaem –Nov. 2015 – a saffron farm in Khorasan, Iran
Saffron is an exceptional plant/produce for Khorasan to build the resilience and cope with climate change, prolonged drought and water crisis in the region:
- The plant is dormant in spring and summer and grows in autumn and winter. It is a low water requiring plant with no irrigation in summer season.
- It is a perennial plant and therefore it is a low care produce which helps soil to maintain its ecosystem.
- Its high value relatively enables farmers to afford their lives.
Comparing the amount of water farmers consume in Khorasan for various produces they cultivate and amount of income they make per unit of water they use for irrigation. That is why some local experts believe if there is one hope for the future of Southern Khorasan, that is saffron.
Prospective of IT startups in Iran:
More than half of the country’s population of nearly 80 million is under 30. And that youth population not only has one of the highest literacy rates in the region, (98 percent). Nearly 65 percent of Iranian homes have broadband access and mobile penetration is 136 percent, with an estimated 83.2 million mobile subscriptions – the largest in the Middle East. That makes the country a viable consumer market, particularly for tech startups.
Good Saffron founders have been saffron farmers for generations. They have old strong ties with saffron farmers in Qaen region in Southern Khorasan, Iran. And by building this social business they aim to offer a solution for the water crisis in the region.