Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Qanat-based Saffron Farming System in Gonabad

Summary

The Saffron Farming System is located in Iran's central plateau that has an arid and semi-arid climate. Severe water shortages in the area pose major threats to food security and livelihoods of local communities.

However, proper use of water resources supplied by the Qanat (or aquaduct) irrigation system and production of high value added products, especially saffron, have created a unique opportunity for farmers and residents of the region to improve their livelihoods.

Saffron does not require large quantities of water compared to cereals, which has resulted in allocation of more areas for the cultivation of this invaluable crop making it a major source of income for many farmer households. Today it plays a key role in creating job opportunities, reducing migration, providing sustainable livelihoods, improving efficiency in water use and productivity as well as developing eco-tourism in the area.