Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Syed F Hashemi on Unsplash

Growing saffron using vertical farming 

Agriculture & Energy

This technique allows growers to harvest the popular spice multiple times a year

Spotted: The severity of climate change coupled with expansion of manufacturing and urban construction projects has crippled the Kashmiri saffron market. Indeed, in the last 20 years, the amount of land used to cultivate the crop in Pampore, India – the saffron centre of Kashmir – has decreased by 60 per cent.  

The highest quality saffron is worth its weight in gold, literally, and is known as ‘red gold.’ Because of that high value, there is a flourishing market in fake saffron. Israeli company Saffron Tech is working towards a new, verifiable commercial market for red gold saffron that is based on vertically farming multiple harvests in a year. 

The well-known benefits of reduced water, pesticide, and energy use that vertical farming provides growers are put to full use in saffron production. Saffron Tech’s system is modular and designed to grow crops near end users to reduce the environmental costs of global transportation. That modularity also opens up the market to new growers who may not have the land or climate to otherwise support a crop like saffron.  

As well as its usual applications in dye, natural medicines, and cooking, Saffron Tech is exploring future uses in other medicines and cosmetics. Having recently announced a $1 million investment by Korean tech manufacturing company Dreamtech, Saffron Tech plans to grow the first saffron crop in Korea, as well as use the funding to complete the patenting process for its technologies.  

Improving output while reducing environmental harm is a challenge that growers around the world are grappling with. Solutions spotted by Springwise include transforming waste fruit into dried fruit snacks, and using crushed rock to sequester CO2 while improving soil health.

Written By: Keely Khoury


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