Well Earth Partnership: Saffron from Afghanistan
Frontier Co-op Saffron is sourced from a Well Earth partner formed by U.S. military veterans who served in Afghanistan and went back to help the impoverished rural farmers they had met there develop saffron as a cash crop.
The saffron sourced from local Afghan farms fosters rural economic development there. It increases income for the farmers and provides hard-to-find jobs for the Afghan women who harvest the delicate crimson stigmas of the flowers. Our supplier also reinvests back into the country’s agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure.
The saffron industry not only helps farmers and the women providing direct labor, it touches every member of the villages in a country where over 80% of the population is reliant on the rural agricultural economy.
Saffron is one of the most prized spices in the world. It comes from the interior of the amethyst-colored saffron crocus and must be hand-harvested due to its fragility. The flowers are taken from the field in the early morning as soon as they open and then transported to a facility where the three stigmas (attached to the crocus by yellow filaments called styles) are hand-separated from the blossoms. It takes 450,000 stigmas (or 150,000 blossoms) to make a kilogram of saffron.
People are often surprised to learn that the best saffron in the world comes from Afghanistan. Most saffron goes through middlemen in Iran (also a big saffron producer) or Spain and is sold as "Spanish" saffron.
But Afghanistan’s growing region, with hot, dry winds over semi-arid lands, is ideal for growing saffron. In 2016, the International Taste and Quality Institute of Brussels awarded Afghan saffron 1st place out of 30 competing regions. Our Afghan saffron is tested for crocin content according to international standards — the results show that the farmers supplying us are producing some of the world’s best saffron.
We’re proud to carry this top-quality saffron and help our socially responsible Well Earth supplier grow.