TEHRAN, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) — Afghanistan has turned into a rival for Iranian saffron exports as a result of huge loads of legal and illegal shipments of saffron bulb over the past decade, Financial Tribune daily reported on Monday. Iran’s saffron exports have been hard hit over the past years for the same reason, Farhad Saharkhiz, an official with Iran’s Saffron Exports Development Fund was quoted as saying.
Saffron bulb is among Iran’s “genetic resources” and there should be special supervision over its exports, and the government should strictly prevent its export, said Saharkhiz. With all these considerations, “it seems that Afghanistan does not need to import saffron bulb anymore from Iran because it has already imported enough, legally and illegally,” he said.
Beside the smuggling of the bulb, Afghan businessmen presently buy Iranian saffron and sell it on global markets under their own name, hurting Iran’s domestic saffron production,” he said. According to the report, Iran is the world’s biggest saffron producer and accounts for more than 90 percent of the global production. The country annually produces over 300 tons of saffron.
More than 172 tons of saffron worth 246.7 million U.S. dollars were exported from Iran to 47 countries in the past Iranian year that ended on March 20, 2017. The figure showed a 32.3 percent rise in weight compared to the preceding year, Gholamreza Miri, chairman of Iran’s National Saffron Center, said.