Afghan Saffron 0.5g - Steenbergs details and description
This saffron comes from a women’s association in Afghanistan which is promoting growing saffron as a viable alternative to opium growing. This provides a legitimate and sustainable future for Afghan women and their families. Although Negin saffron from the Afghanistan Women Saffron Association (AWSA) is neither organic nor Fairtrade, Steenbergs believe very strongly in the ethical benefits of promoting this excellent product. Grade 1 saffron = 261 units of crocin.
Product Information for Negin Saffron: best sargol grade of Iranian style saffron – longer and thicker than standard; only stigma and no style so deep ruby red colour without the yellow base. Undiluted vibrant colour, mystical rich aromas like a gorgeous damask rose. Fragrant.
'When I read about the initiative to encourage and empower women to grow saffron rather than supporting the illegal production of opiates, I felt compelled to get in touch with them,’ says Axel Steenberg. ‘We are delighted that with this top quality sargol saffron. It has a deep ruby red colour from the plethora of stigma and a fragrant damask rose aroma.'
Negin Saffron is the brand name of AWSA, which was set up by social entrepreneur, Ms. Sima Gharvani in 2008, in the Herat region of Afghanistan. It aims to promote fair pay, increasing quality and sustainability and has secured development aid for fertilisers, bulbs, harvest baskets and training. There are traditionally few employment opportunities in rural Afghan societies for women, especially women-headed households, so with the help of this association they are now able to benefit from the advantages of growing saffron rather than poppies: greater yields, more money per acre; less labour; and less water, which is becoming increasingly important due to recurring droughts.
Currently 93% of the world’s opiate is produced in Afghanistan, providing $3.1billion in export value and 46% of Afghanistan’s GDP (source: Jeffrey Clemens, Harvard). Opium production is focused in Taliban controlled areas and is a main source of funding for them. However the Herat Region, close to the border with Iran, is bucking the trend, with the majority of farmers now electing to grow saffron instead. It is well suited to the semi-desert and rugged ecology of Afghanistan; it is morally accepted by Islamic law; legally accepted by the Afghan government and, most importantly for farmers, is far more lucrative.
Perhaps with more international exposure, we will all be sipping our saffron tea and savouring our saffron infused paella with a little more thought to the people who produce it. But most of all, we should be enjoying the delicious, fragrant pleasures of the world’s most expensive spice!