The first country we visited was Afghanistan, the country on the Silk Road.
In the province of Herat we visited a women’s collective which revived the old tradition of saffron cultivation, believed to have been lost in the chaos of the war. In the fields on which opium was grown for years, today the collective cultivates crocus, Crocus sativus L.
The striking, bright red, sweet-smelling, slightly earthy scent distinguishes this premium grade ‘Sargol.’ Only the tips of the stigmas are used.
The saffron is grown using ancient methods and traditions without any pesticides. Given the political and economic circumstances, it is not possible for the farmers alone to get an international Biocertificate. We want to help them.
From the harvest to the drying of the precious saffron threads we had the chance to accompany the producers during all of the steps of the harvesting process personally and to document it.
Women carefully collecting the pistils from the saffron flowers
The collective was paid fairly, directly and on site without any intermediaries. ‘Fairly’ for us means price above average. Consequently, the money was invested by the farmers back into obtaining new saffron bulbs for the next season. This way, the produce can be bought by us again thus a long term trading relationship with the farmers is established.
This trip serves as an example for what we plan to do in other conflict regions. We intend to trade with:
Coffee farmers in Yemen
Olive farmers in Palestine
Salt miners in Ethiopia
and many more.