‘’Red Gold’’ Saffron

Torbat-e Heydarieh County, in Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran / 2017

Saffron is considered the most expensive spice in the world. It is widely used in Iran, North Africa, Indian, Spanish, Moroccan and Asian cuisines as spices and healing herbs. Specially in the eastern part of Iran and in western Afghanistan there are very fertile saffron fields. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Iran has high quality saffron production with its dry, sunny climate and generations of experience of farmers, and it has 85% of the world saffron market. Although the collected part of the saffron flower is red, it gives an intense yellow, orange color when it comes into contact with water. It is named as Red Gold both of its high price (approximately 1 kg is 5.000 usd in the market) and from its colour. Most of the economy of one of the eastern cities of Iran named “Torbat-e Heydarieh” is the production of saffron, During the saffron harvest season, the people of Baloch who live in Balochistan on the south-eastern Pakistan border are working in the fields as seasonal cheap workers.

Baloch workers in the Field ;
Seasonal Baloch workers in the saffron field are walking towards the field where they work.

Saffron Harvest;
Collecting saffron is a difficult physical action. Because it is collected at noon at 25-30 degrees and since it is a very short flower you have to lean during work.

Break time;
Workers have lunch and tea break.When the break time, only empty buckets remain in the fields.

Lonely flower;
Little girl spending time alone in the field of saffron. While the Baloch workers are working in the fields, their little children play games, those over 10 years of age work in the fields.

Checking for Merchant;
While Baloch workers work in the field, there is an official, working for the owner of the field. This official who controls the working efficiency of workers directs workers. Field owners generally choose trusted elderly people for this task.

Quality control;
Saffron flowers collected from the fields are separated by experienced women in their homes according to their color and quality.

Girl at home;
Saffron flowers collected in the field are extracted in houses by young girls and the elderly. Young girls don’t like being seen by a foreigner.

Saffron Flower Market;
Saffron collected in the daytime fields is sold wholesale in the evening market. Buyers buy saffron flowers by looking at the quality.