Azerbaijan continues to revive the tradition of saffron production. The main cultivated areas of this most valuable spice are currently located on the Absheron Peninsula – in Baku and nearby villages. According to AZERTAC with reference to the CBC channel, the season of planting saffron bulbs has started on Absheron. Saffron bulbs are sown in August, and flower picking continues until the end of November.
Azerbaijan has a long tradition of saffron cultivation. According to historical data, this spice was brought from Asia Minor in the 7th-9th centuries. Saffron requires a dry climate and sandy soil, so over time almost the entire territory of the Absheron peninsula was seeded with saffron, and on the ancient coat of arms of Baku appeared an image of a camel laden with saffron flowers. Absheron saffron has always been famous for its high quality and productivity. It is known that in the Middle Ages about 16 tons of dry saffron were exported from Azerbaijan, which was supplied to the markets of Russia and Europe. According to the Soviet Encyclopedia, in the 19th century, 1,000 poods (16380.7 kg) of saffron were produced on the Absheron Peninsula and exported from here to all neighboring countries.
According to Adalet Abdullayev, chairman of the Association of Saffron Producers and Exporters, saffron tubers probably came to Iran from Azerbaijan at one time, and there this activity has developed so much that today Iran is a monopolist in this field.
In 1927, during the Soviet Union, in the village of Bilgah, which due to its climatic conditions is ideal for growing saffron, and in the neighboring villages of Mashtaga and Shuvalan, the Zafaran state farm was created. Here 140-150 kilograms of excellent saffron was produced annually, which was mainly used in the culinary field. However, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the area under crops was reduced, and the state farm was disbanded.
In modern Azerbaijan, saffron continues to be successfully cultivated in private farms united by the Association of Saffron Producers and Exporters.
“Today we are trying to revive these traditions in Azerbaijan,” says Adalet Abdullayev. The government is making the necessary efforts to promote the development of this industry. An Association of Saffron Producers and Exporters operates in the country, and subsidies are allocated for saffron production.
Note that in one gram of saffron contains 450-500 stigmas. One hectare of plantation brings 6-20 kg of spice per year. Saffron production is a very laborious process, requiring significant resources. According to Adalet Abdullayev, everything related to saffron implies the use of manual labor: planting bulbs, harvesting, and removing valuable stigmas. That is why this spice is considered the most expensive in the whole world.
It is interesting that in addition to using saffron as a culinary seasoning, Azerbaijan first started production of saffron jam, which retains all the valuable qualities of this spice. Absheron Saffron produces a healthy dessert made from saffron petals and stigmas, as well as grape, fig, quince, cherry jam with saffron.
And in the future, it is planned to manufacture medicines on the basis of saffron in Azerbaijan.
It is known that in the world about 300 types of drugs are made using saffron. These are anticancer drugs, antidepressants, drugs designed to treat the liver, eyes, etc. Saffron acts positively on almost all organs.
Experts say that saffron can be successfully grown not only on the Absheron Peninsula, but also in many other regions of Azerbaijan. Historically, this spice was cultivated in Ganja, Sheki, Aghdam, Salyan and other cities of Azerbaijan.
And, over time, saffron production is planned to be revived throughout Azerbaijan, which has every chance to regain leadership in the region in the production of this most valuable spice.