A team of four U.S. veterans who are now in business school in Massachusetts have teamed up with farmers they met while serving in Afghanistan to bring to market the most coveted and expensive spice in the world – Afghan saffron.

Afghan-women-picking-saffron-RumiSpiceCoThe Rumi Spice company was birthed in March 2013, when Army veterans were discussing an Afgan saffron farmer who had a warehouse full of the valuable spice, with no buyers lined up overseas. They decided they could provide the farmers with a direct link to sell their saffron globally.

The idea was to transform saffron into a cash crop that could triple farmers’ incomes by using fair-trade tactics of cutting out the middle men. In the process it could spur farmers to move away from the poppy crops used to make opium, which funds the Taliban.

Equally important is its potential to help build the fabric of Afgan life, because 80% of the saffron harvesters are women. One of Rumi Spice’s priorities is to empower and promote job opportunities for these women.

The super spice comes from the saffron crocus flower and is so expensive because it requires hand-picking of the individual stigmas. With hot, dry winds over semi-arid mountainous lands, Afghanistan’s growing region is similar to that of Kashmir, recognized as the world’s premier saffron region.

Rumi Spice has begun selling their saffron on their website, giving consumers worldwide access to  the 2014 harvests.

(WATCH the Rumi Spice video below or READ more from NPR)

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