2023 Saffron Harvest Season at Heray Spice Cooperative: Q&A - Heray Spice

2023 Saffron Harvest Season at Heray Spice Cooperative: Q&A

Nov 19, 2023Mohammad Salehi

Saffron harvest season is from November 5th to November 25th each year in Herat Afghanistan. This is almost the same for Kashmir India, Mashhad Iran, and Oregon USA. We can say globally the last month of Fall season is the harvest season for Crocus Flower or saffron flower.

In this article I wanted to write some updates on harvest season, Afghanistan farmers, our cooperative current and future works and programs. Let's jump into it.

1. What is the significance of the saffron harvest season at Heray Spice Cooperative?

Answer: The saffron harvest season at Heray Spice Cooperative is a crucial time where we gather the vibrant red saffron threads from the Crocus flowers. It's a period of intense activity, community collaboration, and a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of saffron cultivation in Afghanistan. 

At Heray Spice we believe that everyone involved in farming should earn a sustainable and fair income. Our cooperative of Afghan farmers cultivates saffron with passion and care, bringing you the purest and freshest spice that not only elevates your dishes but also supports sustainable farming practices. 

Farmers harvesting saffron flowers during the vibrant saffron season at Heray Spice Cooperative in Herat, Afghanistan
Image: 2023 harvest year, Haji Rahman Farm, Gozarah District Herat Afghanistan. The rich tradition of saffron harvesting at Heray Spice Cooperative, where each delicate flower tells a story of Afghan heritage.

2. How does Heray Spice prepare for the saffron harvest season?

Answer: In anticipation of the harvest season, we meticulously plan and coordinate with our cooperative farmers. This involves training sessions on sustainable harvesting practices, ensuring quality standards are met, and reinforcing fair-trade principles. Additionally, we enhance our processing facilities to accommodate the increased volume of saffron flowers.

3. Could you explain the harvesting process at Heray Spice Cooperative?

Answer: The saffron harvest is a delicate process. Our farmers carefully pluck the flowers early in the morning to capture the highest concentration of flavor and aroma. Back at our facilities, these flowers undergo meticulous hand-processing to extract the precious saffron threads. Saffron has a delicate flower, it has to be picked up early in the morning before the sun-shine, and brought to our facility quickly, otherwise, the flowers will go faded and not usable.

Breathtaking view of saffron fields in Afghanistan cultivated by Heray Spice farmersImage: 2023 harvest year, Ahmad Shah & his sons Farm, Pashtoon Zarghon District Herat Afghanistan. Our saffron fields in Afghanistan, where the soil meets dedication, producing the world's finest saffron threads for your culinary delight.

4. How do you ensure fair wages for farmers during the harvest season?

Answer: Fair wages are a fundamental principle at Heray Spice. We guarantee fair compensation for our farmers, ensuring they receive equitable pay for their hard work during the harvest. This commitment is an integral part of our mission to uplift Afghan farming communities. At our company, there is no credit delays, no late payments, and no deceptive practices. We believe in fair and prompt compensation. Our mission goes beyond delivering premium saffron; it's about empowering communities and uplifting lives. From the sun-drenched fields of Herat to your kitchen, experience the rich aroma, vibrant color, and unrivaled quality of Heray Spice.

5. What challenges do you face during the saffron harvest, and how do you overcome them?

Answer: Weather conditions and the delicate nature of saffron flowers present challenges. We overcome these by staying agile in our harvesting schedules, closely monitoring weather forecasts, and maintaining open communication with farmers. Flexibility and adaptability are key.

Heray Spice farmers engaging in fair trade practices, ensuring equitable compensation for their hard work.Image: 2023 harvest year, Naghibullah Farm, Manzil Village Herat Afghanistan. We believe in fair trade principles, empowering farmers and fostering sustainable practices that enrich both our saffron and the lives of those who cultivate it.

6. Can you share a success story from a past saffron harvest at Heray Spice?

Answer: Certainly! We've witnessed farmers experiencing increased yields and improved financial stability through our fair-trade practices. Such success stories motivate us to continue our mission of empowering Afghan farmers. Here are some updates from this year harvest:

  • Welcomed 14 new farmers into our cooperative (total of 50 farmers).
  • Added 20 more seasonal employees to our processing facility (45 total); with current government of Afghanistan restrictions on women employment, it took us few months to plan, negotiate, and logistically make it possible to employe 45% percent women again.
  • Filmed a documentary about our company and the harvesting season (coming soon).
  • Increased our independent partnership farms from 28 to 36.
  • This year, we're estimating to harvest 15,400,000 flowers, with an expected yield of 220 pounds of saffron (that is roughly 70,000 flowers in one LB of saffron threads).
  • Our total sales income so far this year is $198,180, and $139,200 will go back to farmers for saffron threads, seasonal employment, and training services—a 47% growth from last year.


A collage showcasing the positive impact of Heray Spice on Afghan communities through education, fair wages, and sustainable farming.
Image: 2023 harvest year, Nesar Ahmad Farm, Dashbam Village Herat Afghanistan. Beyond saffron, we're sowing seeds of change in Afghan communities.


7. How does Heray Spice contribute to the sustainability of saffron farming in Afghanistan?

Answer: Sustainability is at the core of our operations. We provide training on sustainable farming practices, ensuring the longevity of saffron cultivation in Afghanistan. Additionally, we reinvest a portion of our profits into community development initiatives and educational charities.

Heray Spice | Authentic Afghan Saffron Direct from Fields of Herat to USA
Image: 2023 harvest year, Heray Spice Facility in Herat Afghanistan, packing saffron jars, ready to be shipped to our facility in Chicago IL.

8. What makes Afghan saffron unique, and how does Heray Spice showcase this uniqueness?

Answer: Afghan saffron is renowned for its deep color, potent aroma, and robust flavor. Afghanistan saffron has been rated as the best quality saffron for 7 years by International Taste And Quality of Broxuell. Heray Spice showcases this uniqueness by adhering to strict quality standards, including ISO 3632.2 certifications, Certificate of Origin, Certificate of Analysis. We take pride in presenting the world with the finest saffron from the fields of Herat.

A close-up of freshly harvested saffron threads with Heray Spice's ISO 3632.2 certification
Image: 2023 harvest year, Nesar Ahmad Farm, Dashbam Village Herat Afghanistan. A close-up of freshly harvested saffron threads.

9. How can consumers support Afghan farmers during the saffron harvest season?

Answer: By choosing Heray Saffron, consumers directly contribute to the well-being of Afghan farmers. Sharing our story, engaging on social media, and being conscious consumers all play a part in supporting sustainable and ethical saffron cultivation. Follow us on INSTAGRAM.  We post short videos of harvest season, tips and tricks on saffron & other spices almost everyday.

10. What are your aspirations for the future of saffron farming at Heray Spice Cooperative?

Answer: Our vision is to expand our cooperative, empower more farmers, and continue being a beacon of sustainable and ethical saffron farming. We aim to create lasting positive impacts on the lives of Afghan farmers and their communities.

Cutlivating hopes for farmers and women in Afghanistan by giving them access to work and better income.Image: 2023 harvest year, Heray Spice Facility in Herat Afghanistan, Women working on separating the saffron threads from Crocus Flower. Watch this video on our Instagram.


As we conclude this journey through the saffron harvest season at Heray Spice, it's evident that the beauty of this spice extends far beyond its vibrant threads. The dedication of Afghan farmers, the sustainable practices employed, and the rich cultural heritage embedded in each saffron bloom make Heray Spice a symbol of hope and resilience. We do all that because our mission is to empower Afghan women and farmers, uplifting their communities by introducing saffron to international markets, offering the rich aroma, vibrant color, and unrivaled quality of Heray Saffron. With each jar of saffron, you not only bring exquisite flavor to your dishes but also contribute to the empowerment of Afghan communities. Join us in savoring the essence of tradition, one saffron thread at a time.

The dedicated team behind Heray Spice, from farmers to processing experts, working together for a sustainable saffron futureImage: 2023 harvest year, Heray Spice Facility in Herat Afghanistan, employees working on separating the saffron threads from Crocus Flower. We have different shifts of work time for male & female. According to current laws in Afghanistan men & women can not work at the same time in the same facility.

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