History and Importance of Saffron

The background of Saffron agriculture goes back to 2500 years ago, this plant seems to be native to Greece and The Mediterranean region, but some believe that the first habitat of Saffron was at the mountain range of Zagros and to be more precise at the Alvand region in Iran.

Although in the past this plant’s agriculture was in the central part of Iran now it is narrowed down to the South of Khorasan province and Fars, Kerman and Yazd as well. Iran is the biggest producer of Saffron in the world and over 90 percent of the world Saffron production is from Iran.

This plant has several unique points such as low need of water, good production time from farmers perspective- (which is fall, winter and the beginning of spring), lots of employment and the main income of most farmers.

In every agricultural year, every hectare of Saffron needs 270 human work force and for the agriculture of 47208 hectares saffron in Iran every year it produces the employment of 12.7 million human work force.

The Iran production of Saffron in different years has different rates and it is mostly dependant on the atmospheric precipitations of production regions. Iran’s production of Saffron in the year 1380 was 160 tones which most of it was exported.

Because of the orientation of the people in the society to using natural additives instead of chemical ones in their daily needs and foods, using Saffron as a colorant and flavor has highly increased.

In these days Saffron is used greatly in the cooking industry, confectionery, drinks and pharmaceutical use. Lately it is more used because of the beneficial biological effects and especially because it is an anticancer. Other than the “kalaleh” of Saffron which is the industrial part of it, the other parts are used as well. Food colorant can be produced by the “golbarg” of Saffron, because this part of the plant has “antoxanin” pigment.

                      1.Production Part

Saffron: It’s a plant that is a couple years old (Family Iridaceae) and it is known as red gold in the producing countries.

This plant is the most expensive plant that is cultivated in the world. In medical science Saffron is known as a sedative, urination, anti asthma and anti stroke.

Saffron is the most important herb in Iran and it is mostly cultivated in Khorasan Razavi province (84226 hectare), South Khorasan province (15782 hectare) and North Khorasan province (2751 hectare).

Saffron is one the oldest, most precious and most expensive plants that has plenty spice uses as well as medicine uses which can be found in wide geographic belts at the Mediterranean beaches in the west and can be cultivated and used.

In world scale this product has 3-4 percent of the spice industry to itself. The worlds biggest producers of this product are Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Australia.

With a year production of about 336 tones of Saffron and a cultivation area of about 105 thousand hectares Iran is the biggest producer of this plant in the world which is about 90 percent of the world production. Iran’s Saffron covers almost all markets in the world either directly or indirectly. At this moment Saffron is cultivated in almost all parts of Iran (30 provinces).


In 2017, herb exports from Iran reached 169012 tones which were Saffron, Damask rose and other plants which in order had export rates of 237 tones (325 billion dollars), 4675 tones (16 billion dollars) and 164101 (110 billion dollars). Iranian herbs are mostly imported to the following list of countries: UAE, China, Spain, Germany, France, Pakistan.


Surface under cultivation, production, and performance of saffron in 10yrs in Iran

Surface under cultivation

Production (Ton)

Performance (kg/ha)





Saffron production in various provinces in 2016 in Iran



Surface under cultivation (ha)

Production (ton)

Relative percentage of total


Khorasan Razavi





Southern Khorasan







Northern Khorasan





Other provinces





Total (sum)





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