BANGALORE, INDIA (AUGUST 9, 2017) – This week, Rumi Spice and Purdue University traveled to Bangalore India to train 6 young graduates of Herat University in quality assurance and quality control practices focusing on the Saffron industry. Funded by Frontier Co-op, this program is an effort to improve the sustainability of the Afghanistan Saffron industry by developing industry wide good agricultural practices (GAP), good manufacturing practices (GMP) and quality control standards. Through this, the team hopes to provide economic impact in Afghanistan by opening up western markets to Afghanistan saffron.
Saffron is an extremely labor intensive crop, making it the most expensive spice in the world. Each fall, the stigmas of the crocus flower are handpicked and dried. Almost 150,000 crocus flowers, or 450,000 stigmas, are needed to create a single kilogram of saffron. Afghanistan’s saffron is unmatched in taste and quality. The crop has a tremendous potential as an export commodity for Afghanistan. Rumi Spice, Frontier’s provider of saffron, sources high quality saffron directly from Afghanistan farmers. Their mission is to cultivate peace through saffron.
The current focus on standardizing quality control methods within the saffron industry is the next step in unlocking the economic potential of saffron as an export crop. In addition, inclusion in trade has a stabilizing effect on the country suffering from over 30 years of war. “Farmers who are growing saffron have no interest in working with the Taliban. They want to see their farms be successful and want to sell products to Americans.”, says Shakoor Ehrarri, Rumi Spice’s representative in Herat.
More than 80 percent of the Afghan population is connected to the agricultural economy and the industry touches every member of the villages where it is produced. Rumi Spice’s partnered farmers have doubled and tripled their production over the span of only a few years. New farmers are continuously asking to join this global network, and connecting Afghanistan farmers with the global market is the key to unlocking the economic potential of Afghanistan.
Rumi Spice currently projects that they will partner with 200 farmers for the 2017 harvest, purchasing approximately 200 kg of saffron with an estimate worth of $450K USD. Rumi is the largest contributor to Afghanistan's foreign direct investment in agriculture and the largest private sector employer of Afghanistan women, employing more than 300 during the saffron harvest.
by Laura Willis