How To Start A Lucrative Saffron Farming Business in Nigeria: The Complete Guide

How To Start saffron farming Business in Nigeria or Africa: Complete Guide
How To Start A Lucrative Saffron Farming Business in Nigeria or Africa: Complete Guide | Image: Pixabay

Saffron is a spice from the family of Crocus Sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus” originally from Iran. It is a precious spice with a limited yield after harvesting.

According to the statistics for saffron trade in 2019, Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffron, supplying 430 tons of the total 450 tons of saffron produced worldwide and is expected to reach 500 tons in 2020. India ranks second in saffron production at 22 tons of saffron annually.

Saffron is the 3412th most traded product and the 3828th most complex product according to the Product Complexity Index (PCI). The world’s two leading exporters of Saffron are Iran and Spain who export about $114 million and $63.2 million worth of saffron respectively. In terms of importation, Hong-Kong holds this spot, making about 33% of the world imports, which is equivalent to $99 million.

The saffron spice is no doubt a precious one but not widely available due to its minimum yield. Even in Nigeria, the spice is not well-known or utilised.

The saffron spice has a possibility of yielding much income and increased production in Nigeria, because Nigeria has a favourable climate for the plant, especially in the Northern region. The government and agricultural investors can capitalise on these advantages. Saffron is a recommendable branch of spice production for commercial agriculturists and would be a successful business idea for any agro investor.

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What Is Saffron?

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. It is believed that saffron originated from Iran. The vivid crimson stigma and styles are collected and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Saffron has long been the world’s most costly spice by weight. It is a unique and delicious spice that creates the signature flavour in many dishes, like Spanish paella and bouillabaisse. Saffron is produced by the crocus flower, which is easy to cultivate.


What Is Saffron Farming?

Saffron farming refers to the process of cultivating the saffron plant for commercial purposes or primary use.

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Business Opportunities In Saffron Farming In Nigeria & Around The World

1). Spice Production:

Saffron possesses a unique flavour and taste which modifies the quality of various food dishes hence its importance. It is used in the production of spices and seasonings.

2). Saffron Marketing Distribution:

Due to its value and quality, the spice can be branded and distributed to various markets. It can also be exported. Being the most expensive spice, saffron will certainly yield high income at both local and international markets.

3). Food Supplements:

Due to its high health benefits, saffron can be used in the production of various supplements, suitable for consumption by young and old.


Facts And Benefits Of Saffron Farming

  • Saffron has been used as a natural remedy for over 90 illnesses for the last four millennia.
  • Saffron can help with cancer prevention.
  • Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
  • Saffron contains properties which help against inflammation and arthritis.
  • Saffron is rich in carotenoids
  • It originated from Iran.
  • Saffron was used as a perfume in Ancient Greece
  • A saffron plant can bear about four flowers
  • Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice
  • Harvesting saffron can only be done manually.
  • The leading global producers of saffron are Iran, Greece, Spain, Morocco and India.
  • Dried saffron still contains 12% moisture
  • Saffron is used in Oriental dishes, especially rice.
  • Saffron can also be used for dyeing textiles
  • In Nigeria, saffron is grown in Edo and Kebbi states, among others.
  • Cultivation of saffron started around the 12th and 13th centuries.

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Types Of Saffrons

1). Premium Super Negin:

This type of saffron is the best, rarest and most expensive type of saffron. The threads are symmetrically cut in such a way you can not find the yellow colour in the thread. It is often long and has a full concentration of flavour and aroma. The length of the premium super negin thread ranges from 2 to 3 centimetres in full red colour.

2). Super Negin:

Super negin is cut around 1.5cm to 2cm in length. This type of saffron is the second-best quality saffron. The threads are pure red with no wavy pattern. You can not find the yellow and whitish-grey colour in the super negin threads. Super negin saffron is shorter than the premium super negin.

3). Negin:

In the negin family, this type of saffron has the shortest length and contains a tiny part of yellow colour in the thread. On the other hand, it has a delightful smell and taste compared to the pushal and bunch saffron.

4). Pushal:

The length of the pushal saffron is around 2cm to 3cm. It usually has a wavy pattern. Compared to the other types of saffron, pushal is the lower grade. It has more yellow parts than the negin saffron but a lesser concentration of aroma.

5). Bunch Saffron/Abu Sheiba:

The length of the bunch saffron is within 3cm and 6cm. It is the lowest grade of saffron. When compared to the above four types, Abu sheiba is the longest saffron, and it usually comes as a bunch. This type of saffron threads has less of red colour, more yellow colour, and whitish-grey at the bottom.


How To Start A Saffron Farming Business: Step-By-Step Guide

1). Choose Location:

Find a planting location with well-draining soil and full sun. Select an area of land that gets the right amount of direct sunlight. Plough the soil to make sure that it’s not too hard or packed too tightly. Crocus bulbs can die if they become waterlogged, so you need soil that drains effectively.

2). Planting:

Till the location where you will plant your saffron, and work organic matter 10 inches (25 cm) deep into the soil. You can use compost, peat, or shredded leaves. This provides nutrients for the crocus bulbs. If rodents or other pests are a common problem in your garden, you should consider planting in containers. Crocus flowers will grow better in clusters. Plant your crocus approximately 3 inches (7.6 cm) apart from one another, and cluster them in groups of 10 to 12.

3). Maintenance:

During the growth period, it is vital to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Start by watering your corms 1 to 2 times per week. If the ground is parched within a day, begin watering three to four times per week. This will help your crocus corms build up a reliable store of carbohydrates to help them survive for long. Crocus flowers are easy to cultivate. They are naturally hardy and naturally resistant to insects and disease.

4). Harvesting:

In the centre of each purple crocus flower, you will find three orange-red stigmas. Wait for a sunny day when the flowers are fully open, and carefully remove these stigmas from each of your crocus blooms using your fingers.

5). Storage:

Once you have carefully removed all of the saffron stigmas, lay them out on paper towels in a warm, dry place. Leave them in the sun for 1 to 3 days until they are completely dry. Dried saffron should be kept in a cool, dry place. Note that you can store saffron in an airtight container for up to 5 years.

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Challenges of Saffron Farming in Nigeria

  • Harvest yield is relatively small
  • It requires specific climatic conditions.
  • High capital involvement
  • Little knowledge of the spice
  • The yield is too expensive
  • Saffron farming requires manual labour
  • The spice has a limited market in Nigeria because not many people know about it.
  • Poor management habits by local farmers
  • High infestation of pests and diseases
  • Unavailability of quality corms
  • Insufficient marketing techniques and facilities among local farmers

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To Sum It Up

Saffron is the most expensive and one of the richest spices globally, although not popularly known or utilised in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, the double advantage pave the way for the introduction of a massive saffron farming in the country that, no doubt, would yield great results. You should consider saffron farming if you’re looking to start a lucrative agro-business in Nigeria.

The saffron farming business in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable venture to start-up, due to its vast market demand and on your ability to build a wide supply chain network. If you’re looking for a supply chain business to venture into, the saffron farming business in Nigeria is a great option to explore.


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What are your thoughts on how to start a saffron farming business in Nigeria? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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  1. This Is Nice. I Live Around Sokoto-Kebbi Axis. Were Can I Get The Seeds Please. I Want 2 Giv This A Try. A Reply Will Be Much Appreciated. Thanks

    • Hi Musa,

      Please visit the local ministry of agriculture there to get a recommendation within the area.

      Thank you.

  2. Quite interesting,been looking for where to get planting seeds of saffron.Can you please tell me how to get.Jam in Gwagwalada FCT.I cannot wait to get information on saffron seeds.

  3. Yes, where do we get the seeds or cultivar in Nigeria. I learnt it is planted in Edo and Kebbi. But the locations. Pls help.

  4. I am absolutely interested to farm saffron.i this in my area saffron plants can survive.thank you

  5. For many years crocus is in my farm land at ikara kaduna Nigeria.but I don’t now what it mean about.I really need to know more on how to take care of it .I have some pictures just of recent when visited the area

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