Mzansi is fast becoming a significant player in the farming and export of saffron – by far the world’s most expensive spice. After years of perfecting the art of saffron cultivation in the Northern Cape, Bennie Engelbrecht, the founder and a director of Saffricon, joins our Farmer’s Inside Track agriculture podcast to talk about the opportunities now open to Mzansi farmers.
All of South Africa is abuzz with talks of saffron farming changing the game for the agri sector. For the local economy, saffron offers an invaluable source of foreign income from exports. It offers commercial farmers an alternative source of revenue through diversification and also assists small-scale farmers, says Engelbrecht.
In South Africa, saffron (sometimes referred to as “red gold”) retails for as much as R250/g (or R250 000/kg). The hefty price tag is attributed to the labour-intensive harvesting methods followed – from picking the flowers to removing the threads, everything is done by hand.
Engelbrecht foresees solid growth prospects for the international saffron market, primarily because world demand far exceeds supply. Saffron is primarily used in the food industry as a seasoning to enhance flavour and aroma, but also has great use in the natural cosmetics and natural medicine industries, and as a dye in the textile industry.
This profitable crop can be grown in almost any environment, in conditions that are traditionally not ideally suited for most kinds of agriculture. This includes the Northern Cape, which actually suits the cultivation of saffron. This allows for the production of profitable vegetation from unprofitable soil.
Read more on how Saffron ‘could be pure gold’ for new era farmers on Food For Mzansi and listen to his interview on Mzansi’s favourite agriculture podcast by following the links at the end of the page.
Other podcast highlights:
This week’s Farmer’s Inside Track agriculture podcast also has other highlights for the agricultural sector:
- Farming is a laborious and capital-intensive business with numerous risks, but there are a few commodities that can yield better financial return. Pig farming is one of these. Journalist Dona van Eeden put together 10 easy steps to run a profitable pig farming business.
- At the end of apartheid, Kelo Kubu, along with many other black South Africans, was able to reclaim her ancestral farmland and thus she, unexpectedly, became a farmer.
She shares her vision to educate other newfound landowners while her ag-tech accelerator focuses on teaching urban female farmers how to profit from their land.
- Farmer’s tip of the week: Mpumalanga vegetable farmer Gugulethu Mahlangu’s farming mantra is “Diversify and plan ahead!”
She says, “Farming may be the cornerstone of your business, but consider what else you and your enterprise could do to achieve the best return from your assets”.
- Book of the week: Farmers choose Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need by Rieva Lesonsk as their book of the week.
Packed with expert advice, this book demystifies the start-up process with answers to the most commonly asked questions about starting a small business.
- App of the week: West Coast macadamia nut farmer Eric van Zyl saw a gap to create a multilingual, proudly South African farming app called Agri Assistant.
- Mzansi Flavour: Apriena Jugoo Pummer, owner of PriMade – a Johannesburg-based catering company, has the perfect mouth-watering recipe for Biryani. It’s not as complicated as it looks, we promise!
How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track agriculture podcast
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