Washington barriers deprive world markets of Iran's "red" gold
Iran is looking to increase exports of "red gold," or saffron, but exporters say US sanctions make it harder for them to reach global markets where demand is high.
Saffron farmers and exporters say Iran produces 95 percent of the world's total.
While US sanctions have affected the arrival of Iranian saffron to many parts of the world due to the unwillingness of international banks to deal with Iranian export companies, Iran remains almost monopoly to produce saffron.
It produces about 350 to 400 tonnes of saffron a year, and although Iranians dominate more than half of the production locally, their country remains the world's largest exporter of the largest quantity of this higher-priced spice.
Most Iranian saffron is produced in the Khorasan province of Radwa, where many farmers, traders and shopkeepers depend on it for their livelihood.
The lion's share of Iranian exporting saffron is destined for the UAE and Spain as a crude product.
Ali Mohammad Shariati Moghaddam, head of the Agriculture Chamber of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce and exporter of saffron, says 90 percent of the exported saffron is being rebranded and sold to other countries with a different brand.
Despite recent competition from producers in Afghanistan, Spain and China, Iranian traders and farmers remain confident that their famous crop is the highest quality on the market and available in much larger quantities.
Saffron, a spice, has long been used as a major ingredient in Persian food, traditional and spiritual medicine.