Hand in Hand saffron producers receive organic certification

15 May 2023

woman in a purple hijab and a black facemask holding up a pile of purple crocus petals

Hand in Hand is delighted to announce both of the saffron producers and exporting companies taking part in its Organic Growth project have now been certified by the US-NOP (National Organic Program) as organic and European Union (EU) organic C1 certificates (soil conversion for year 1).

Funded by Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the Danida Market Development Partnerships Programme and a corporate foundation, Organic Growth is an innovative project to develop Afghanistan’s first organic saffron value chain – in partnership with German social enterprise Conflictfood, which will distribute the saffron once it has achieved full EU organic certification.

The project aims to improve the incomes of 3,000 farm workers and processors in the Herat province by making saffron growing more profitable. Organic saffron commands a higher price on the international market than non-organic saffron, but, to be certified as organic, producers must meet very strict criteria. It takes three years for saffron to be certified as organic as per the EU organic standards, while in NOP the saffron can be directly certified as organic if the company meets the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards. Both companies also passed their first EU years’ audit, a key step towards the important milestone of being certified as fully organic by NOP and meeting C1 for EU Organic standards.

Hand in Hand Afghanistan Executive Director, Dr Ahmad Kamran Hekmati, said: “Achieving US-NOP and EU organic certification shows we are well on the way to creating Afghanistan’s first organic saffron chain – a project which will raise incomes in some of the country’s most deprived rural communities, helping families put food on the table and pay for housing, education and healthcare.”