EghtesadOnline: A total of 2.5 tons worth $202.43 million of damask rose oil were exported from Iran in the last fiscal year (March 2020-21), which makes Iran the biggest damask rose oil exporter in the world, according to the executive manager of the Agriculture Ministry's National Medicinal Plants Project.
“The base export value of each liter of Iranian damask rose essential oil is $1,000, which is far behind the essential oils worth $5,000-12,000 exported worldwide,” Hossein Zeynali was also quoted as saying IRNA.
A total of 302 tons of dried damask rose and rosebuds worth $1.6 million tons were also exported during the same period.
“Iran with 30,000 hectares of damask rose cultivation and production of about 55,000 tons of flowers ranks first in global output and has the highest area under damask rose cultivation,” he added.
Iran is also a major producer of damask rosewater.
Isfahan’s Kashan, the hub of damask rosewater production in Iran, is home to 1,740 traditional rosewater distillation workshops, 36 industrial rosewater factories and 78 semi-industrial rosewater workshops plus thousands of hectares of damask rose.
All these have created jobs for 70,000 people, but as Reza Seyyed-Navvabi, the head of Traditional Rosewater Producers Association, said last year, all of them have become jobless due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Noting that half of rosewater annual sale takes place in March-May during the visits of tourists, he said, “With the closure of tourist centers and cancelation of rosewater production festivals, retail sales plummeted at the worst rate on record. Apart from the retail market, rosewater is being sold in large quantities to confectioneries. Coronavirus has cut purchases by this guild and by dairy factories to zero.”
“Over the years, mosques have been our major customers, particularly in the holy month of Ramadan; cemeteries where you could smell the rich scent of rosewater is now filled with the smell of alcohol [used as disinfectant]. As you see, the coronavirus has left this valuable industry in tatters,” he told the Persian-language daily Iran.
The official noted that last year’s production of damask rose increased 1.5-fold to stand at 100,000 tons compared with 60,000 tons of the year before, “but unfortunately in the absence of demand, we have no choice but to destroy our own product”.
Calling on the government to allow export of rosewater or import of machinery used to convert damask rose and rosewater into essence, Seyyed-Navvabi said farmers are bearing the brunt of losses.
Referring to hurdles in the way of supplying packaging materials, including bottles and cartons due to the road closures, he said storehouses are full of rosewater but the prospect of selling it appears dim to many producers.
He put losses sustained by traditional rosewater workshops in Kashan at 2,000-2,500 billion rials ($7.4-9.2 million) and said low-interest loans and tax and insurance waivers might help this troubled industry to survive.
According to Zeynali, Iran is the world’s biggest producer of damask rose, accounting for 70% of the global production.
Iran, he had said earlier, meets 90% of global rosewater demand and accounts for 8-10% of rose essence production in the world.
Fars Province has the largest area under rose cultivation.
Iran’s rosewater is exported to 23 countries.
Rosewater is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals, a byproduct of the production of rose oil for use in perfume. It is used to flavor food and tea, as a component in cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia.