0427 GMT January 20, 2020
Hossein Zein’ali told IRNA on Wednesday that presently, more than 20 percent of the export value of the horticultural sector of the country is related to the export of saffron.
Iran’s high-quality saffron was exported to over 40 countries, mainly to Spain, Vietnam, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he added.
Zein’ali pointed to the creation of value chain as one of the basic and fundamental moves taken in the field of saffron exports, saying, “The Ministry of Agriculture tries to expand the cultivation of this plant in different provinces of the country.”
A member of Iran’s Saffron Council said in August that exports of saffron declined to just over 40 tons between April and June this year, down 15 percent compared to the similar period in 2018 when over 50 tons of the Iranian saffron was sold in markets across Europe and Asia.
Ali Hosseini said that each kilogram of Iranian saffron is priced between €700 and €1,000 in the European markets but the price prescribed by the Iranian government is well below – between €450 and €600.
Exporters and farmers have been lamenting that underpricing has caused a surge in the smuggling of saffron to neighboring Afghanistan, where the Iranian product is repackaged and exported to countries like India.
Hosseini said that India’s low tariffs on saffron imported from Afghanistan, compared to higher duties levied on Iran's saffron, were encouraging more and more people to transfer the spice in large quantities from Mashhad to Afghanistan.
Authorities believe the illegal businesses have cost Iran saffron exports dearly as exporters have decreased their shipment to the United Arab Emirates, a top buyer of the Iranian saffron, because of declining inventories.