All you need to know about producing the world’s most expensive spice :
After a year of waiting comes the long-awaited moment to pick these delicate purple flowers, which only bloom in the fields for two or three weeks, between October and November.
These flowers, which bloom at night, require picking them quickly by placing them in baskets made of reeds, before the sun’s rays damage them, because they are very fragile and are harvested using only the fingertips. But to produce one kilogram of saffron requires each individual to bend 150 thousand times at least!
“The production of saffron in the Taliouine region is characterized by family peculiarity, as this plant, which is a type of spice, is cultivated at the level of small pieces of saffron that are transmitted from one generation to another,” said Amhand Amhaili, head of the economically beneficial group – Dar Al-Saffron in Taliouine.
“The saffron buds look mainly like small onions that cost only a few dirhams,” Amhili added, highlighting that this field product is rooted in traditions over hundreds of years, and that the quality of its physical, chemical and organic components is recognized by the most skilled producers, thanks to its high concentration. Of crocin, the main chemical component responsible for the color of saffron, and safranal, which is responsible for the smell of this product.
He added that the methods of cultivating saffron remained the same for several centuries, indicating that after the hairs obtained after trimming are collected, they are dried and sorted, to obtain the “100 percent organic” spices, which are most used by professionals in the art of cooking, cosmetics, health and medicine.
The professional in this sector highlighted that the high price of saffron is due to its usefulness, scarcity, method of cultivation and pound, which is slow and difficult, noting that to produce 1 gram of saffron, 150 flowers must be harvested.
He added, “This flower is the economic pillar of this region of Taliouine, and it is the main source of household income, especially for women who prefer to receive saffron for every working day instead of 150 or 200 dirhams.”
The head of the group stated that farmers, in general, do not sell saffron immediately, but wait a few months for the prices of “red gold” to rise, indicating that this luxury product is carefully kept for sale in times of financial crisis.
For his part, Ismail Boukhreis, Director of the Economic Benefit Group, Dar Al-Saffron in Taliouine, expressed his regret for the widespread marketing of adulterated products as being from Taliouine, without respecting the strict quality standards imposed by the “origin” mark and those related to the National Office for the Sanitary Safety of Products. Food.
He added, in this context, that the 25 cooperatives involved in this group are planting 500 hectares of saffron to produce a quantity of saffron reaching 1000 kilograms per year, expressing his regret for the dire consequences that the global health crisis caused by Covid-19 has on the sales prices of this Product both nationally and abroad.
He mentioned that this group of cooperatives contributes to developing the saffron sector and improving the living conditions of the producers, by eliminating many middlemen and direct marketing with specialized stores.
With a production of 6.8 tons during the year 2018 on an area of 1,800 hectares, Morocco is the fourth largest producer of saffron in the world, after Iran, which is the largest producer in the world at 180 to 185 tons per year, as it accounts for 90 percent of the global market, followed by India and Greece.
Nevertheless, Taliouine saffron remains as a Moroccan agricultural product of the finest types of saffron in the world, in terms of crocin (color), microcrocin and saffron (the organic compounds in saffron responsible for its distinctive taste), in addition to the fact that it contains the organic chemical compound “vinyl ethanol” that gives it a light pink touch. And soft.