Iran’s homegrown treasure: the spice that costs more than gold

Iran's homegrown treasure the spice that costs more than gold

It is the most expensive and sought after spice in the world, commonly known as red gold.

At $65 per gram for the highest quality crop, Saffron can actually cost even more than the precious metal. Its value has been kept permanently high by labor-intensive harvesting methods that require around 200,000 delicate red strands to be hand-picked from 70,000 Crocus Sativa flowers for each pound.

The undisputed capital for saffron production is Iran, where the tradition dates back over 3,000 years. The country produces over 90% of the 250 tons produced worldwide each year, boosted by unique ecological conditions that deliver a strong-flavored, aromatic crop that is a staple of local cuisine, cosmetics and traditional medicine.

But business has been made harder for traders in recent years. The international sanctions implemented over the country’s nuclear program have blocked access to the previously lucrative markets of Europe, the USA and Canada. Iranian companies and banks have been locked out of the global financial system.

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