King of Saffron
Knowing that things can be better is one thing – but doing something about it is another matter.
For far too long hundreds of farmers in Afghanistan have been exploited for a rare commodity: saffron.
Growing up with his mother in the West Midlands, Harris Qais, a young Afghan-born CEO, was inspired by his mother to help people back in their home country who have grown up knowing nothing but war, exploitation and sorrow. Determined to help those less fortunate than himself, Harris set out on a mission to regenerate Afghanistan’s saffron agriculture and to transform the way the world trades and uses saffron.
Armed with this vision and a burning desire to make things better, Harris’s mission began with a coincidental meeting in the summer of 2018. In his unique (and somewhat unorthodox) way of ‘strategising’, Harris’s next step was to fly to Amsterdam for a holiday, to give himself time and space to consider his next move.
Chatting with the man sitting next to him on the plane, Harris shared his vision. By a stroke of luck, the gentleman happened to work for Aston University and was able to point him in the right direction to get his company up and running. That led to King of Saffron (KOS) being incorporated in October 2018. However, although KOS was ready to trade, unlike most start-ups there wasn’t a mad rush to get the product out to the market as quickly as possible. Instead, realising there was a lot of work to do behind the scenes to repair the years of damage caused by exploitation in the saffron trade, Harris took his time.
The first task was to find the respected saffron dynasties in Afghanistan; the families who have been involved in the trade for generations, with whom he could begin working to help polish and present this fine, rare commodity.
The second priority for Harris was to ensure quality throughout the entire supply chain, from improving testing capabilities to developing extensive knowledge into what makes the best saffron.
For Harris, the simplicity of KOS is in cutting out the middlemen and working directly with the farmers himself. Being able to reconnect with the land, the locals and the language reinforces his love for his country. It is this love he plans on channelling to give hope back to those who grew up in a war-torn country – and for generations to come. Harris recognises it’s important to understand our individual origins but also realises it’s just as important to understand the origins of the food we consume.
With counterfeit and contaminated saffron awash in the market it’s hard for regular consumers to have confidence in knowing what real saffron looks, feels, smells and tastes like, let alone if the farmers who spent days harvesting it have received a decent wage.
King of Saffron can help.
The team knew that there should be no more guessing or even questioning the origins of the saffron and decided to trace each thread down to the area of the meadow where it was carefully picked. Saffron requires intensive manual labour (for the finest saffron, a delicate touch is required so machines are out of the question) and the yield is low in comparison. This in turn can create a shortage of supply in premium saffron at certain times during the year, increasing the price as the rarity increases.
To have a finger on the pulse of saffron fluctuation is like playing the stock market without the internet. So along comes KOS again, ready to put life back into the saffron trade with their own digital stock tracking for greater transparency for all. Together with over 200 Afghan women farmers, multiple NGOs and local UK agencies, KOS is now on track to restoring consumers’ perceptions of the saffron trade.
“At the end of 2019, we joined the Comesto community because we see this platform as a strong catalyst to help us connect easily with buyers. They can come direct to us and see for themselves the social good our products produce as a result of their purchase – and this can only support us in our mission,” says Harris.
KOS is not satisfied with simply supplying the world’s finest saffron to add an exotic twist to your food. Their passion for saffron goes much deeper than flavouring.
Saffron has been a key focus in a growing number of clinical studies that explore its potent therapeutic benefits, particularly its effects on the nervous system and in treating neurological diseases. Not only does saffron impart a unique flavour to any dish, but it also delivers powerful health benefits, which should not be underestimated.
We predict that it’s only a matter of time before the KOS triple USP’s (quality/flavour, proven benefits & social good) floods the whole world with saffron joy.
Coming to the Comesto shop soon, King of Saffron welcomes enquiries from buyers and traders needing to know more about the product and the initiative and also the many ways in which top quality saffron may be used.