Mixed farmer Eric Brown is a major advocate for saffron farming. He believes that farming this spice could offer a great opportunity for small-scale farmers, and he joins the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast this week.
Brown’s journey into the industry came about through networking on his cell phone. “Through networking, I found an opportunity to farm with saffron. It was affordable, it was doable, [it was] not labour intensive. Within five days, after I put the first bulb into the soil, and the first purple flower showed her face.”
Brown says that there are many opportunities in saffron farming, and he struggles to find anything about it to dislike. “My kids pick it. Harvesting is like picking flowers. Mid-morning, our family harvest the flowers and then pick the delicate deep red stems, drying it in the oven, and sorting it. What is there to hate?”
As with any produce or plant, saffron requires very specific conditions to flourish. Brown says that the plant needs to be kept moist. “In summer rainfall areas, take the bulbs out and store in a cool dark place, then replant in February. In winter rainfall areas with good drainage and good soil, you can keep the bulbs in the soil for four years”
For Brown, passion in what you do as a farmer is a requirement. “Farming is a passion. [You need to] live it and enjoy it. You can farm in your garden, but to enjoy it, you have to have passion. You [also] have to have an economical unit, and you have to network. We all have [the networking tool] – a phone.”
He encourages aspiring saffron farmers to tap into their networks and grab the opportunity to farm the plant. “Saffron is versatile. It’s a niche product. It’s an opportunity. It is high value, high income, and low cost. It’s a no-brainer. Just do it.”
Other farmers’ podcast highlights:
The best agriculture news podcast on the planet also features other highlights for the agricultural sector this week:
- Farmer’s tip of the week: Our farmer tip of the week comes from Gauteng rooftop farmer, Zandile Kumalo, who is on a mission to make the city greener.
- Book of the week: Our book of the week is “A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health” by Jon Stika. The book is reviewed by Food for Mzansi’s Sinelizwi Citizen Journalist of the Year, Terri-Ann Brouwers.
- Soil Sistas: This week’s #SoilSista powered by Food For Mzansi and Corteva Agriscience is Limpopo poultry farmer Pertunia Botlhole. This fiery farmer makes sure that her customers always get the best.
- Farmer Development: Farmsol boss, Aron Kole, educates us on how new farmers can grow their ventures with technology.
- Understanding POPI: director and managing attorney at Michalsons, John Giles, tells us what farmers need to know about the new POPI Act.
- Animal Nutrition: Discussing animal nutrition today is Voermol’s technical manager, Marí Bronkhorst. She unpacks how Limpopo mixed farmer, Karabo Motjana, improves his animals’ mortality rate.
How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track
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