The worldwide saffron consumption needs are supplied by Iran, a provincial trade official said Monday, reminding that Iran produces over 96% of global saffron production.
A saffron farm in northeast Iran
"Over 96% of the world saffron production belongs to Iran, but the world knows this farming product under the name of Spain because Iranian producers have for years exported their product to Spain in bulk, where it is packaged under a different name," president of the Trade Organization of Iran's Southern Khorassan province Nadder Mirshekar said, lamenting the Iranian producers' poor attention to packaging.
He further said the government is doing its best to help farmers and producers with high-quality packaging, while the Iranian Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) has initiated efforts to register the Iranian saffron as a brand at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Earlier this year, Head of Iran's Union of Saffron Sellers and Exporters Gholamreza Miri announced that the country had exported more than 68 tons of the precious spice in the first 9 months of the last Iranian year (March 20-December 21, 2010).
Miri said that Iran exported about 68 tons of saffron in the first three quarters of the last year.
He also reiterated that the country exported 90 tons of the precious spice in 2009.
Saffron constitutes 13.5 percent of Iran's non-oil exports.
Saffron is a spice derived from the dried stigma of the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Iran ranks first in the world production of saffron, with more than 94 percent of the world yield. Other minor producers of saffron are Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy (read more on wikipedia).
Saffron whose botanical name is crocus sativus is the most expensive spice in the world.
Derived from the dried reddish-purple stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes anything from 70,000 to 250,000 flowers to make one pound of saffron.
The flowers have to be individually handpicked in autumn when they are fully bloomed.
The delicate flowers are harvested only in mid-autumn. The flowers begin to grow after the first rains and the blooming period is usually mid-October when the temperature is just right.
Red gold is mainly cultivated in Kashmir, Iran, and southern Europe, particularly Spain with Iran being the world's top producer of the spice.
Due to its diverse climate and fertile soil, Iran's agriculture products are rated among the best in the world with saffron being no exception.
Iran's saffron production has in the past decade been increasing steadily, most of which is exported overseas, mainly to the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Japan, Turkmenistan, France, Italy and the US.
But saffron also has medicinal applications and a long history in traditional healing for the treatment of a variety of ailments such as menstrual pain, menopausal problems, depression, chronic diarrhea and neuralgia - modern medicine has also discovered saffron as having ant carcinogenic (cancer-suppressing) and antioxidant-like properties.
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