A Report on Qanat-based Saffron Farming System


“Qanat-based Saffron Farming System” was designated as the 55th Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Pursuant to the agreements made between Mahmoud Hojjati, the Iranian Minister of Agriculture, and José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on the development of global identification of historical background and agro-biodiversity in our country, and the completion of relevant cases, “Qanat-irrigated saffron agriculture system” was designated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as the 55th Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), and the 3rd global agricultural heritage from Iran. According to the official website of the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture, and as announced by FAO, this significant achievement was designated after the documents and hearings were presented at the latest Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) meeting of the GIAHS Secretariat held in FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. This designation was piloted in Seno (Mizou organic saffron), a village in Zibad Rural District, Kakhk District, Gonabad County, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran.  The Ministry of Agriculture congratulated this designation to all saffron farmers, activists in the saffron value chain, and agricultural community in the country, and pointed out that this achievement signifies local people’s deep connection with principles of sustainable utilization of soil and water resources throughout the history. It must be pointed out that Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) were innovated and initiated by FAO in 2002. The goal of this innovation is to identify, introduce, and protect global agricultural heritage. Each case that wishes to be designated by this system must fulfill the five following criteria: its aim must be providing 1. Food and livelihood security for rural communities, 2. Agro-biodiversity, 3. Local and traditional knowledge systems, 4. Cultures, value systems, social organizations, and 5. Landscape features. Moreover, the applicant country must present a comprehensive action plan for conservation, safeguarding, and development of the above-mentioned items to FAO. Out of thousands of applications submitted from different countries, only 54 applications globally were able to successfully pass the strict process of FAO’s designation system. From our country, “Qanat Irrigated Agricultural Heritage Systems, in Kashan”, and “Grape Production System in Malayer” were added to the list in 2014 and 2018 respectively. Thanks to its ancient history and civilization in agriculture and unique biodiversity, the Islamic Republic of Iran has great capabilities in terms of global agricultural heritage. This was duly pointed out in the agreements made between the Iranian Minister of Agriculture and the director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). After the designation of Iran’s qanat irrigated agriculture in 2014, and Malayer grape production, and qanat-irrigated saffron agriculture, some other cases have been completed and submitted to the administration of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) by the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture. It is hoped that some other projects will be carried out successfully in the immediate future, which will subsequently be announced to the Iranians and vibrant agricultural community.

Organic Saffron