By Setareh Behroozi

Iranian startup enchanting market: Water-friendly saffron shopping

April 27, 2018 - 11:20

An online marketing and an enchanting shopping! An Iranian startup provides the chance for you to buy your saffron from the farmer you want, get in touch with him or her and involve in sustainable development.

The startup is founded by two brothers, Mohammad and Hamzeh Qaempanah and one of their friends Siamak Khorrami. The brothers are born in families who were saffron farmers for generations in Qaen city, located in South Khorasan province, which is renowned for its unique saffron products.

The problem of aridity has forced farmers in Qaen to deplete underground water reservoir, which has increased the salinity of water and its salt levels continue to rise year over year due to increase in depth of wells and the saline water is not suitable for cultivating saffron.

However, water shortage and saline water are not the only problems that the farmers must deal with. The main portion of their profit margin is earned by middlemen. In addition, the middlemen put a single price on all products, regardless of the quality of the saffron each farmer is producing.

The founders of startup believe that the saffron farmers who are member of the startup, care about water they use for irrigation purposes. By purchasing from farmers, they are encouraged to keep up the good deed.

Through the startup the founders find a way to connect farmers, who harvest their saffron without using chemical pesticide and fertilizers in traditional ways, with buyers.

On their website, they stressed that they do not farm saffron neither buy it from farmers, they just supervise the harvesting process and connect buyers to farmers.

Buying saffron online

As one of the most precious spices of the world, there are hundred ways of cheating. However, the saffron which is available through the aforesaid startup, is analyzed in the lab.

You can find the exact result of tests, which is done in credible laboratories, on the website. The crocin, a chemical primarily responsible for the color of saffron, picrocrocin, chemical most responsible for the taste of saffron and Safranal, an organic compound responsible for the aroma of saffron, are tested in laboratory.

They pack saffron in proper containers, which guarantees the quality through time.

In addition, by purchasing saffron through this startup, farmers earn 20 to 40 percent more profit in comparison to traditional market.

High-quality saffron

The threads of saffron are trumpet-shape flute in evenly sized threads. Its color draws out slowly and if you chew some threads it tastes bitter. If you role some threads in a brown paper, no sign of fat should be remain on the paper. High-quality saffron is harvested without chemical pesticide and fertilizers.

Getting in touch with farmers

You can find a brief biography and some pictures of the farmers who offer their products on the website. There are some information about their family, the fields they have and the problems he or she tackles for harvesting saffron.

In a section on the website, you can read comments of people who bought saffron from the farmer and find out more about the product you want to order online.

Yes! You can meet the farmer you want to buy from. You just need to send a message to him or her on the website and they let you know whether the farmer is at home or not.

During your trip to Qaen, you can get introduced to the process of harvesting this precious spice. The startup also holds a three-day tour during harvest time of saffron in October. During the tour, the local foods are served and you visit historical parts of the city.

Caring about water resources

The founders believe that the farmers who are member of the startup, care about water they use for irrigation purposes. By purchasing from them, they are encouraged to keep up the good deed.

Tragedy of commons, is a term in social sciences which describes a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users act independently according to their own self-interest behavior contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

Accordingly startup, tries to supports the farmers who care about water resources in order to avert the tragedy of commons.

Instead of developing their farming lands and hence using more water or selling water to others farmers to make more money, the startup plans to ask the farmers to close wells valves when they do not need its water anymore. The depletion of groundwater resources is neither beneficial for the farmers nor the ecosystem.

The startup also encourages customers to collect “drops” as their award by buying saffron for several times and introduce it to other people or organizations.

Each drop turns into a 10,000 rials (about 0.2 dollar) discount in your purchase. The drops turn into golden ones after three months, turns the customer to special member of the startup.


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