KUALA LUMPUR: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and Malaysia is currently trying to grow it in its own backyard. Saffron crocus, which has for thousands of years been used as the main spice in dishes across Western Asia, costs more per ounce than gold. in Malaysia , its price over between RM28,000 and RM32,000 a kilograms, It can only be grown in countries with four seasons or in Mediterranean climates, such as in Western Asia. However, a team of researchers from the Science Faculty of Universiti Malaya (UM) headed by Prof Dr Rosna Mat Taha have recently succeeded in an early experiment to grow the saffron crocus in Malaysia.
The corms, grown in vivo in a culture room, started flowering for the first time in November last year through January this year.The stigmas from some one-hectare field of flowers need to be delicately hand-plucked to acquire just five to seven kilogrammes of saffron. Every saffron flower only has three stigmas.This means around 1,000 flowers have to be carefully plucked to harvest 10g of stigmas. The success in growing saffron crocus for the first time in a tropical climate is promising.
“Saffron can only grow in four-seasoned and Mediterranean countries like Iran, which is the largest producer of saffron crocus in the world. Turkey, Kashmir (India) and European countries like Spain and France also produce saffron, but in smaller quantities. The spice contains safranin, a potent anti-cancer and antioxidant compound.Among the health benefits of saffron is that it stimulates brain cell growth in humans and strengthens the memory. Many old Islamic medical journals touted the
benefits of saffron, claims which have all been verified by modern medicine. Saffron has also been used as an antidepressant for those suffering from bouts of depression. Saffron crocus is a sensitive plant requiring proper care.