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We're a team of U.S. military veterans sourcing the world's most coveted spice - Afghan saffron.
We're a team of U.S. military veterans sourcing the world's most coveted spice - Afghan saffron.
393 backers pledged $32,907 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$32,907

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One of our farmers, Haji Yosef, on his farm in Wardak Province
One of our farmers, Haji Yosef, on his farm in Wardak Province

Who is Rumi Spice?

Rumi Spice was founded by a team of five U.S. military veterans to source premium, artisanal saffron from Afghan farmers to help spur agricultural development and sustainable business practices. All of our founders have lived and worked in Afghanistan, several of whom are fluent in Dari. We've developed strong Afghan networks and an on-the-ground understanding of local business. 

In previous years, neglect of the rural Afghan majority contributed to the rise of the Taliban, who capitalized on historic grievances. Without investment in agriculture, Afghan farmers have little prospects with shrinking land allotments - making them susceptible to the Taliban. Rumi Spice strives to change this dynamic by providing Afghan farmers with a direct market to produce and sell saffron globally. 

It takes 450,000 stigmas to make a kilogram of saffron. Each flower has 3 stigmas, so workers must process 150,000 blossoms to produce that amount.
It takes 450,000 stigmas to make a kilogram of saffron. Each flower has 3 stigmas, so workers must process 150,000 blossoms to produce that amount.

Why saffron?

Afghanistan's dry winds and arid climate make for an ideal environment to grow saffron. Kashmir, long considered the site for the world's premier saffron production, is in the same growing region as Afghanistan.

Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. As such, Afghan farmers can more than double their income with saffron. In addition, saffron provides an alternative to poppy and opium farming - one of the primary sources of income for the Taliban. At Rumi Spice, we provide an additional stream of demand for saffron production in hopes that opium production will go down. Buying saffron directly from Afghan farmers encourages future investments in Afghanistan's agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure

A handful of our premium Afghan saffron
A handful of our premium Afghan saffron

Why is saffron so expensive?

Saffron has such a high value because of the vast amount of labor required to harvest and process. The stigmas must be separated from the saffron blossoms by hand - it takes 450,000 stigmas to make a kilogram of saffron. Each flower has 3 stigmas, so workers must process 150,000 blossoms to produce that amount. 

What's up with the name? 

Our namesake "Rumi" is a 13th-century Persian poet and theologian. He taught the concept of tawhid - union with his primal root from which he has been cut off - and his longing and desire to restore it. Like Rumi, we believe that Afghanistan can restore its position as a center of trade on the Silk Road through business development.

Social Impact

So how can I help?

Our first year of selling went so well that our farmers are doubling saffron production in the next harvest. But there's a lot left to accomplish! We want to begin establishing the following items to ensure next year's harvest is a success: 

  • A central processing facility in Afghanistan to include processing/cleaning area
  • Drying equipment
  • Packaging equipment
  • Labeling equipment
  • Secure storage
  • Organic certification
  • Next season's corms (seeds) 

Risks and challenges

After a decade of conflict and heavy investment by the international community, the majority of Western troops are now leaving. We believe sustainable economic growth in the future will come from the kind of economic empowerment Rumi Spice offers to the rural population. Our biggest challenge is working in a frontier market such as Afghanistan, where security and stability are constantly in flux.

With our prior networks and in-country expertise, we have built the critical relationships, partnerships, and organizational infrastructure necessary to operate within and out of Afghanistan. Our competitive advantage is our ability to navigate the Afghan business landscape, which is built on trusted relationships. We have also emerged as a leader in the Afghan saffron industry. An advisor for the Afghan Ministry of Finance has asked Rumi Spice's help in producing a national saffron development plan. The US Department of State and Department of Commerce have pledged their support for our mission.

Ultimately, we believe a for-profit, social enterprise is the solution to long-term post-conflict development, and Afghan peace is worth fighting for.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    TEAM RUMI: Stay in the loop on all things saffron! We'll add you to our e-newsletter specifically for campaign backers to get the latest updates on how our project is progressing on the ground in Afghanistan.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    ADOPT A SAFFRON FLOWER: We'll plant a saffron crocus (flower) in your name for the upcoming growing season. In addition, we'll send you a certificate with the name and biography of the farmer.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    SOUS CHEF: Tasting is believing! You'll receive our favorite saffron recipes and 0.5 grams of our finest negin saffron. A little goes a long way - 0.5 grams is enough for 37 dishes of paella. And of course we'll keep you posted on all things saffron.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    You'll receive 1.0 gram of our premium saffron, along with our recipe booklet and a saffron crocus planted in honor of someone special to you - you'll receive a certificate with the name and biography of the farmer you're supporting.

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    91 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    REP RUMI: Our super-soft, premium cotton t-shirt so you can #cultivatepeace. Plus, we'll also send you 0.5 gram of saffron, our favorite recipes, and regular updates on our project in Afghanistan.

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    48 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    CHEF DE CUISINE: 2.0 grams of premium Rumi Spice negin saffron and our favorite recipes to cook saffron with. Plus, we'll also include our super-soft, premium cotton t-shirt and regular updates.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    SAFFRON GIFT SET: A special and unique gift set that includes classic 2-gram premium Afghan saffron in swingtop glass gift bottle, saffron + green tea kit, four recipe cards with instructions on using saffron in traditional dishes such as Kabuli Pulao, and a cream-paper inscription of "Thank You" in Dari. Not to mention we'll send our recipe booklet and our #teamrumi super soft, premium cotton t-shirt!

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    EXPERIENCE AFGHAN HOSPITALITY: We will fly to you and cook a traditional Afghan dinner in your home for up to 6 people! We will also include our Saffron Gift Set. Available in the following cities: Austin, Boston, St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Join the co-founders on a trip to Afghanistan to meet with our farmers and visit the saffron fields in Herat! We'll show you traditional Afghan hospitality and what Pashtunwali truly means in person. You pay for your airfare and visa costs, we'll cover the rest.

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Funding period

- (45 days)