…And now Fairtrade Saffron from Iran
After three years of patient preparation and collaboration between importers, traders and farmers: Saffron and Iran are on the Fairtrade map!
Saffron is derived from the dried stigmas of the purple saffron flower. Anything from 60,000 to 250,000 flowers (weighing around 100 kilos!) are needed to make just one kilogram of dried saffron. The flowers are individually harvested by hand and it takes at least forty hours’ labour to pick 150,000 flowers. No wonder it’s the most expensive spice in the world.
Around 85% of global saffron exports come from Iran. Production of the exotic spice is a real family affair. Every family member is involved in some way, whether it be harvesting, extracting fresh stigmas, hygienic drying, or processing and packaging. And that means each family is utterly dependent on the crop for their income. They have to produce good quality, and they have to find a buyer. This makes them very vulnerable to the whims of the market.
But thanks to a unique collaboration between importers, a processor, saffron producer families and Fairtrade, this is about to change.
In 2010, importers VARISTOR and Antonio Pina Diaz teamed up with the Global Saffron Company and Fairtrade field staff to support 40 saffron producer families in forming their own cooperative. It was a long process but “Arghavan Dasht e Paeezan” co-op was finally legally registered in October 2012 and, following a successful Fairtrade audit, has now become the world’s first Fairtrade certified saffron producer organization.
The farmers already have high expectations about the impact Fairtrade can have on their lives:
“We expect it will enable us to raise the level of mechanization on our farms, which in turn will help us increase production. Farmers who have small pieces of land can learn to use modern technology effectively, by participating in training programs. We will then be able to improve our production and increase our annual income”.
When asked what Fairtrade Premium projects/activities they hope to develop, they told us:
“The Fairtrade Premium from the sale of our saffron will create a great sense of motivation and encouragement to us farmers. Projects such as purchasing appropriate cloth, hygienic gloves and proper tools for all members of the cooperative will enable us to perform better while further improving the quality of our saffron. Another major project is to convert to organic farming practices, so we can produce organic saffron which is in demand from consumers”.
Arghavan Dasht e Paeezan’s Fairtrade saffron will soon be on sale in Switzerland.
If you are interested in sourcing Fairtrade saffron, please contact Sumedha Karunatillake: firstname.lastname@example.org