“One of the advantages of Saffron seeds is that when you start a business, you have to make a huge upfront investment in seed. This investment is very, very good for saffron. The seed is ready to go on sale by about June and you need to work your way up to the full production. We are able to provide the farmer with an upfront loan to cover the first few years, plus a credit guarantee to cover the last few years. And in fact we’ve done this for 30 years.
“We can only go up to about 150 hectares per year. But every year we get more land into production for us, with more buyers. So in the past five years, we have grown more than 30% in annual production capacity per acre than even in the first five years of our business.
“It is not a big business, but there is always a demand for saffron. Our customers include a huge variety of producers across the industry, from small producers in Gujarat, including small growers to big and mega farms. Even within the state of Gujarat, there are some important buyers who have a very strong interest in saffron, particularly in Chhatisgarh.
“Also we are interested in exporting and will export it to countries such as Germany, Thailand, and Philippines. This is part of our business model. If we export more, we will earn higher revenue from overseas buyers like our distributors, we will be able to take on more risk and create more capital for future expansion. It will also help us to keep our prices low.
“These are all things we want our farmers to know, that it is possible to grow saffron for the future,” said Sivaraman.
The company currently operates around 20,000 hectares of production capacity annually.
Sivaraman adds that saffron does not require much input from the farmer but it does require a lot of care. They must give plenty of water, keep the seed covered with the seed and fertilised with good quality compost. All that can take years to develop, but they must give the seed enough time to develop properly.
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