94 Percent of World Production of Saffron in Iran/40-Million-Dollar Export of Essential Oil Plus Extracts
The secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine said, “94 percent of the world’s saffron is cultivated in Iran.”
The secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine said, “94 percent of the world’s saffron is cultivated in Iran, and Iran’s only competitor in this regard is a country that has 800 thousand hectares allocated for this product, and due to the fact that some of the active compounds of this plant is not produced in this country, therefore, it has stopped the cultivation of saffron.”
Reported by ISNA, medicinal plants are those plants that one or several parts of which contain active compounds. According to statistics, about 8,000 plant species exist in Iran, 2,300 of which are medicinal and aromatic plants.”
Due to culturalization, today we see there is more mindfulness when it comes to traditional medicine and medicinal plants, such that in an interview with ISNA, Mohammad Hassan Assareh, secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine said, “In the second decade after the revolution of Iran, only 138 items of herbal medicine was registered in the official list of Ministry of Health and Medical Education; however, this number rose to 938 items in 2012 and also in August 2016, the herbal medicinal items reached 1713 which is a hundred percent increase.”
He noted that the number of traditional products and medicine went up from 121 items at the end of 2012 to 746 items in August 2016, “Consumption of herbal medicinal share per capita in pharmacies has reached 4 percent from 1.5 percent. Furthermore, in the last four years, the area under the cultivation of some of the medicinal plants such as saffron, the Lamiaceae and the Apiaceae, barberry and damask rose have risen over 40 percent, from 128 thousand hectares to 181 thousand hectares.”
Referring to the fact that in the past the export in this field was in the form of raw selling of medicinal plants, Assareh indicated, “According to the statistics, before Iran’s revolution the export of the raw material of medicinal plants differed based on drought and extreme rain, in a way that in some years we had export of 70 to 80 and in others as much as 180 million dollars. However, due to some policies, at the moment, this has dropped to lower than 80 million dollars.”
He reasoned that such an outcome is due to prevention of the selling of raw medicinal plants and taking legal actions against over-harvesting of endemic plants from their native habitat in the country, he then continued to say, “By implementing the law of restriction of harvesting those endangered medicinal plants, at the moment, we have a 100 thousand hectare decrease in the harvest of endangered medicinal plants and according to upstream documents, this number must reach 800 thousand hectares.
He further said that the export of liquorice has been in the form of raw and therefore, its harvest is prohibited. It has been estimated that so far we have had 30 to 40 million dollars of export of liquorice products.
The secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine added, “Iran is the 5th country to export medicinal plants, only after China, India, Korea and Turkey.”
Cultivation Development of the King of Medicinal Plants
The secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine described saffron as the ‘king’ of the country’s medicinal plants and noted, “Considering the fact that this plant is among those that require little water, therefore, we went ahead to develop the cultivation Of this plant in the country, in a way that the area under the cultivation of this plant went up from 77,300 hectares in 2012 to 96,000 hectares in 2015.”
Stressing the need to develop both the quality and quantity of the cultivation of saffron, Assareh noted, “In the recent years, for the first time we have been able to export 8 million dollars of some of the saffron products.”
According to him, 94 percent of world’s saffron is produced in Iran. In the past, Spain endeavored to cultivate 800 thousand hectares of this product, but since some of the active compounds of this plant was not produced in Spain, it discontinued its cultivation.
Assareh further reminded that from the active compound of this plant, a medicine for Alzheimer’s disease is produced.
Increase in the Production Capacity of a Variety of Herbal Medicine in the Country
Referring to the increase in the capacity of a variety of human and livestock medicine,the secretary of National Council for Science and Technology Development of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine added, “The theoretical capacity of these herbal-based medicine, which are in the form of tablets, cream, syrups and capsules reached 570 million in 2015 from the 300 million that it was in 2013. Apart from that, the theoretical capacity of a variety of essential oil and plant extracts increased from 122 thousand tonnes in 2013 to 183 thousand tonnes in 183 production and industrial units in 2015.”
Assareh further stressed that based on the estimation, in the recent years about 38 to 40 million dollars’ worth of Rosa damascena essential oil and extracts have been exported and Iran is ranked number one in the cultivation of Rosa damascena.
Noting that Iran has an annual production of 20 thousand hectares of Rosa damascena , he added, “Bulgaria is second after Iran in breeding Rosa damascena in an area of two thousand hectares; however, this country invests mainly on essential oil, whereas we concentrate on the traditional production of rosewater.”
The Necessity to Focus on Medicinal Plants’ capacity in the Country
This active official in the field of medicinal plants and traditional medicine stressed the need to shift from a traditional system to an industrial system in terms of medicinal plants and said, “Iran has numerous capacities in the field of medicinal plants, in a way that it is ranked number one in production of pomegranate and considering the active compound present in its peel, it is predicted that in the future, its peel will have an increase value added, hence there needs to be investments in this regard.”
Rain-fed fig of Fars province is one of Iran’s other capacities, he added, “If we are to have knowledge-based exports, the right way for us to do so is through resistive economy, hence we need to produce crops and products with high economic value.”
In order to present the achievements of Iran’s researchers in this field, the third Exhibition and Festival on Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine was held in Imam Khomeini Mosala through Monday to Thursday, September 5th-8th of this year.