Geographical Indication for Iranian Saffron
07/09/2022

Geographical Indication for Iranian Saffron

The production of agricultural products is normally under the direct or indirect influence of local geographical attributes such as climate conditions, soil, and other human-resource factors.

The concept of applying Geographical Indication (GI) tag for food, natural and agricultural products was introduced in 2013. With respect to the general definition of GI tags, it should be noted that agriculture products normally have features and attributes originating from the place of production. GI registration and proper exploitation of it in the process of production to sales brings enormous advantages to the product value chain, as a whole.

No proper use of geographical indication potentials is turning into a critical issue in the Iranian saffron branding and international market positioning processes. The absence of a geographical indication tag for Iranian saffron has many drawbacks for the international marketing of this product. Therefore, we dedicate this blog to learning about geographical indication and its application in the saffron industry. 

What is a geographical indication or GI?

protected GI logo

A geographical indication tag, or GI tag, indicates the source of the products, certifying the certain qualities that a product may have. The presence of a GI tag ensures the buyer that the product is produced, marketed, and sold according to special methods, or beholds a good reputation due to its geographical origin. 

The concept of applying GI tag for food, natural and agricultural products was introduced in 2013. The tags are given under the act of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999. 

With respect to the general definition of GI tags, mentioned above, it should be noted that agriculture products normally have features and attributes originating from the place of production. The production of agricultural products is normally under the direct or indirect influence of local geographical attributes such as climate conditions, soil, and other human-resource factors in cultivation, harvesting and processing of agriculture products. The human resources factors may include, traditions and production abilities, and capabilities of the human workforce in different levels of expertise. As a result, GI tags have a significant impact on introducing the unique properties of products in a specific region, comparing to other producing regions, which results in the improvement of the value chain and international market development. 

an example of GI tag

Why GI tags are important for Iranian saffron products?

Iran is the largest and the best saffron producer in terms of production volume and quality. Iran produces more than 90 percent of the saffron in the world, with the highest coloring power, best aroma, and taste, therefore, it should be legally supported by Iranian saffron geographical indication tag. Now, saffron is cultivated in more than ten provinces in Iran, with different characteristics in each cultivation region. Of course, the Great Khorasan produces top quality saffron in Iran, and in the whole world, for its long history, special climate condition and the experience and expertise of farmers in the cultivation and production of saffron.

The appropriate use of GI can help in the branding and marketing of saffron. GI tags convey the cultural identity of a region and add value to the natural products of a country. When GI is applied to local products, it gives the producers a great image and drives the prices up. Therefore, the application of the GI tag on Iranian saffron can be a game changer in the global market. 

It is claimed that GIs play a more important role than the identification of the origin of a product. The GI tag can protect the rights of a specific social or industrial group. The use of GIs for local producers enhances their reputation and helps them sell directly to final users. 

GI tags protect both producer and final users from potential fraud. That is the use of GI can protect produce from potential misuse and imitations, plus encourage agricultural production and rural sustainability while giving credible information to final consumers regarding the origin and purity of the product. This limits the potential frauds and product deceptions such as low-quality imitation, blends, fake saffron, or else. 

Iranian saffron is known as the best saffron in the world. Therefore, the application of the GI tag can greatly promote the status of Iranian saffron on the global scale, making it hard to sell non-Iranian products as Iranian saffron. 

Iranian saffron GI tag

Iranian saffron GI tag:

The Iranian saffron registered for geographical indication tag in 2017. In Khorasan Razavi and Khorasan Jonoubi, there are seven regions to grow saffron: Birjand, Torbat-e-heydarie, Sarayan, Ferdous, Ghaenat, Gonabad, and Neyshabour. These seven regions got GI tags under the names “Khorasan saffron” and “Ghaenat saffron”. On the other hand, other saffron regions such as Taybad, Torbat-Jam, and Bakhraz, which produce unique saffron with high coloring power and are similar to Mancha saffron in terms of appearance, are not supported in any way.

According to claims of international intellectual property experts, the registration of GI tag for Khorasan and Ghaenat saffron is limited to registration of the tag and local publicity. Its operational document and application are still ambiguous and there is no sign of deploying the potentials of GI protection in international scale.

The GI tag provides a code, which should be attached to the product. The tag shows that the saffron is produced in a specific geographical region. This way, other countries cannot sell Iranian saffron as the products of their own region. 

The Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade should plan to provide the necessary infrastructure in terms of branding, packaging, marketing, and advertising, as the second phase of the process, to show the world that originally saffron is an Iranian product.

The benefits of GI tag for Iranian saffron

Evidences show that the GI tag registration and legal support do not solely result in product optimization. The effective exploitation of the GI tag requires the existence of a monitoring entity, developing an implementation guide and handbook of product specification, quality checks, and product traceability, as well as developing marketing and sales fundamentals and strategies. Without them, the legal registration of GI tags for saffron products will not work efficiently in this industry. 

Currently, government and the authorities mostly focus on increasing the production of saffron, which leads to an increase in sales and export of saffron, while, the production of top-quality saffron, should be according to the target market requirements and specifications. 

Finally, it can be concluded that the GI system not only improves the saffron value chain and its systematic function but also increases the sales potential of other products in that region through the increase of tourism, control of environment destruction effects, and climate change side effects. 

 

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