Saffron is a medicinal and industrial herb. The stigma or the red part of saffron is called threads, which is light red at the beginning of harvest and gradually turns dark. Fresh threads have a pleasant smell and taste and add a special taste and flavour to foods. Saffron (red gold) is the main source of income for farmers in Khorasan.
The history of saffron planting in Iran (especially Qaen saffron) dates back to more than 3000 years ago. Saffron is a perennial, colourful and precious plant without stem and bulb. Since saffron is grown in deserts, it is known as the red gold or desert gold. About 110,000 to 170,000 saffron flowers are needed to produce one kg of dried saffron. Moreover, a worker should work 40 hours to collect 150,000 saffron flowers. Because of its excellent taste, colour, and smell, saffron has many applications in the production of food, pharmaceutical, and chemical products. Nevertheless, it is considered a highly expensive product as its cultivation and production is restricted. Iran is the first producer of saffron in the world (200-300 tons per year) accounting for the 90-95% of global saffron production and Spain ranks second with an average production of 25 tons. The third place belongs to countries such as India, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, China, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Greece, with an average production of 25 tons per year altogether. The hub of saffron planting in Iran is the desert and low-water areas in the south of Khorasan, where the history of saffron cultivation dates back to 700 years ago.
Thanks to its wonderful smell and flavour, Birjand saffron has attracted many customers from all around the world.
The wonderful and high-quality colour of saffron in this region, compared to the saffron cultivated in other areas of the world, has led to the highest efficiency and customer attraction.
Due to desirable climatic conditions for planting this scarce crop, as well as the soil of this area, which is rich in nutrients needed for its growth, about 4,500 hectares of lands in Birjand are under saffron cultivation. With a production of 30 tons per year, which accounts for a substantial share of global production, Birjand is known as the world’s capital of red gold.