A Day in the Life of a Saffron Farmer, Meet Haji Yosef
We are approaching a thrilling time of year - the fall saffron harvest! Similar to the annual fall harvest here in the U.S., the saffron harvest only comes around once a year and is a momentous occasion for our entire team. A lot of work (and people) go into making the saffron harvest happen so we wanted to take you through our supply chain and highlight a day in the life of a Rumi Spice team member. From the Afghan farmers in the saffron fields to our team here in Chicago, get a glimpse of what it takes to harvest red gold.
A Day in the Life of a Saffron Farmer
As the sun rises over the horizon, our Haji Yosef wakes with the first light of day. After morning prayers he checks his own family farms. Haji Yosef grows several crops, not unlike other farmers in Herat province. Farmers produce a diverse variety of crops including almonds, cumin, grapes, pistachios, raisins and of course, saffron. After checking in on his other farm plots, Haji Yosef heads out to the saffron fields where it’s time to get to work.
Haji Yosef closely monitors his fields. When the weather drops between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius for five consecutive days Haji Yosef and other saffron farmers will irrigate their saffron fields, if it has not already rained. Fifteen days from this first irrigation the saffron harvest commences.
Today it is not quite time for the first irrigation. Haji Yosef and the entire community wait in eager anticipation of the first bloom. Farmers like Haji Yosef can make six times their annual income from growing saffron. Haji Yosef has been working with Rumi Spice for three years, and each year has doubled or tripled his production due to growing demand from Rumi Spice. The saffron crocus produces one or two new crocus bulbs each year, which allows the farmers to increase their yields by replanting bulbs in new fields. In fact this year Haji Yosef works with five additional farmers and hundreds of laborers during the harvest to help keep up with demand.
This afternoon, Haji Yosef and other farmers met with our Rumi Spice representative and discussed the upcoming crop, the predicted yield, and share best farming practices.
During the fall saffron harvest, the autumn crocus flowers (more commonly referred to as the saffron flower) must be picked so their stigmas can be harvested and used to make saffron. It takes between 50,000-75,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron. For Haji Yosef and the people of his village, this is transformative. From the farmers to the laborers to the shopkeepers selling supplies, everyone benefits from this growing industry.
Though Haji Yosef himself was never an opium farmer, he knows that saffron offers a much better alternative than farming opium. In fact farmers can earn up to 10x more growing saffron than they would growing opium.
Haji Yosef is extremely proud that his product is sold in the US. Before Rumi Spice, Haji Yosef's only interaction of Americans is seeing soldiers drive around in large armored vehicles. Now for Haji Yosef and farmers like him, American's are their customers, and they are creating opportunity and economic development in places like Herat.
Haji Yosef explains, "We do not want any handouts, we just want to sell you saffron." Luckily Rumi offers single origin saffron directly from Haji Yosef and farmers like him.
Many Hands, One Common Goal
Though the lives of all of our Rumi Spice team members may look very different from one another, we are all working together for one purpose, one mission, one goal - empowering Afghan farmers, women, and bolstering the Afghan economy. Together, with your help, we are laying the foundation for peace, one saffron flower at a time. Join our mission to change the world through spices. By entering your email below we will share recipe updates, discounts, and news.