Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It’s cultivation has also high costs. This plant is being grown in Albania in small almost experimental amounts. An Italian-Albanian enterprise has undertaken the initiative of growing saffron under the “Zafferano di Dumre” label. The spice is being grown in the an area of 3 acres in Dëshiran, Belsh, Elbasan County, central Albania.
Saffron is called the red gold due to its precious values. It requires attention, care and selected soil conditions. Its cultivation also requires the highest international standards and above all certification.
Saffron has been grown for many years in Kosovo as well. Its red color, unique flavor and savory taste make it incomparable to any other spice. Saffron is also used in the pharmaceutical industry and is considered the king of medicaments and spices.
Experts say that growing saffron in Kosovo is becoming a solid business. However they recommend against a massive cultivation of saffron in Albania, because it does not represent a lucrative deal.
U.S. expert of medicinal plants Peter Furth told AgroWeb.orb that saffron in Albania does not enjoy favorable economic conditions. The fact that saffron is being grown in Kosovo, does not make the spice, a merchandise that Albania can easily sell or export.
Secondly, Albania has many other unique plants that are worth cultivating and yield huge financial benefits, according to experts interviewed by AgroWeb.org.
Considering the fact that Greece, the world’s second largest saffron producer, generates about 6 tons of saffron per year, Albania’s chances to compete in the market are slim.
Ali Avdiu from Prishtina, has been growing saffron since 2011. In his interviews, he said that growing the plant is costly, as one seed or bulb alone costs about 10-12 cents and an acre of land requires about 500,000 seeds. This means that the cost/acre of saffron is about 50,000 euros.
The sale price of saffron in the market is 8-12 euros/gram or 3000-5000 euros/kg. Taking into account the costs of buying seeds, care during production, the profits do not come cheap.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, part of the botanic family Iridacea, whose flourishing season lasts three weeks/year. The medicinal properties of saffron are in the stigmas that bare many phytochemicals such as picrocrocin, crocin, alcaloids, carotenoids, lycopene etc. Saffron is a natural remedy to depression and staves off the advance of Alzheimer’s.
Saffron, has considerable amounts of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid and vitamin B6.
Approximately 75,000 flowers of saffron are required to obtain 0.5 kg of the spice. The minute stigmas are extracted manually. As a result of its expensive production method, saffron is rarely used for medicinal purposes.
Saffron grows well in deep well drained clay-calcareous soil with high levels of organic matter. Saffron enjoys full sun and continental Mediterranean climate with warm winters, dry summers and minimum humidity.
Planting is done through May to September whereas random planting is done in the second part of June and in the first weeks of September. Irrigation water must be free of waste and chemicals. Hand-harvesting is done on a daily basis.
Drying leaves is crucial to extracting saffron. There are plenty methods to dry saffron but it all depends on: time, dry temperature and used devices. Saffron can be used by all but preferably in small amounts not more than 0.2 gram per day./AgroWeb.org