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Uzbek-Italian joint venture to create one of the world’s largest saffron plantations

On May 1, 2020, the Uzbek-Italian joint venture BMB-Opera Zafferano was established and will operate as a medicinal plants cluster. 5 million saffron (crocus) bulbs were shipped from the Italian city of Brescia to Uzbekistan as reported by the Dunyo news agency.

According to the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Italy, a convoy of trucks with cargo carrying 64.5 tons traveled 6,800 kilometers across Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The premium bulbs of this unique plant sent from Italy to Uzbekistan have been created by Italian breeders for centuries. These bulbs are to be planted on the hills of the Bakhmal district in the Jizzakh region to grow saffron.

The project for the cultivation and industrial processing of saffron and other medicinal plants in the Jizzakh region for export to Italy and other European countries was initiated by the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Rome.

The companies BMB Trade Group in Uzbekistan and Opera SRL in Italy signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the implementation of the aforementioned project, which includes:

  • soil study for growing saffron and the construction of a research and innovation laboratory for certification and determination of product quality;
  • involvement of professional agronomists and technologists;
  • supply of modern equipment and launch of production for the processing of saffron for technical, medical, culinary, and other purposes; and
  • organization of packaging and exporting of products to Italy.

The total cost of this investment project is 34.4 million euros. Most of the investment will go towards the purchase and supply of high-quality saffron bulbs. The project is expected to create about 200 permanent and 7,000 seasonal jobs for the local population. The project has also attracted qualified agronomists and technologists from Italy to Uzbekistan and in the near future, it is planned to create modern certification laboratories.

Read also: Saffron cultivation is gaining momentum in Sweden

During the dispatch of saffron bulbs to Uzbekistan in May, the President of Opera SRL Paolo de Angelis said: “This event is undoubtedly of special significance in the history of trade and economic relations between Italy and Uzbekistan because the saffron bulbs grown in our country are leaving their historical homeland for the first time. As part of our project, 5 million bulbs are being sent from Brescia and we plan to send the remaining 75 million bulbs in the coming days.

“A year ago, with the support of the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Italy, BMB TradeGroup and Opera SRL launched this project. Thanks to the favorable investment climate created today, new broad opportunities for doing business in Uzbekistan are opening up.

“I say this based on my personal observations and experience. In confirmation of this, I can say that the administration of the Jizzakh region in a short time allocated 400 hectares of land in the Bakhmal region to our project. In addition, we feel the full support and assistance in the implementation of the project from the ministries of foreign affairs, investment and foreign trade, and agriculture of Uzbekistan. We want to create one of the largest saffron plantations in the world, which will allow Uzbekistan to become a leading player in the international market.

“In addition, together with BMB TradeGroup, we plan to create additional production facilities in the saffron cluster for the production of finished products that are in demand for cooking, pharmaceuticals, and other industries.”

It is known that a long-term export contract for the supply of processed and pre-packaged saffron products worth 12 million euros has already been signed with the GESFARM company, which supplies products to more than 5,000 pharmacies in Italy.

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