Srinagar: This year Kashmir may see bumper saffron crop. The cultivators of Kashmir’s golden saffron crop say that timely rainfall and natural multiplication in carom produced bunches of flowers together were an important factor for bumper crop.
Although the cultivation of the crop was delayed by a week after a decade due to natural change in weather, timely rain and suitable temperature propelled the production much to the delight of the farmers, Gawhar Jahangeer, a farmer said.
Jahangeer was feeling satisfied in the saffron field at Pampore in south Kashmir and was busy in plucking the flowers along with his children and putting them first time since decades on a cloth which they called “Dagoon” traditionally a blissful pattern.
A good number of tourists were also enjoying the harvesting saffron beauty at Pampore fields.
“Obviously this year the production of saffron is going to bumper”, Jahangeer said and added “this is for the first time that the picking up of the saffron flowers is similar to the good old days”.
He said for the past eight years the big bunches of saffron flowers were missing appearing in the field but this year it is evident in the field much to the delight of all of us.
The farmer said after 20 years the farmers are able to pluck flowers and collect them on “Dagoon” , instead of collecting them in baskets. It was only possible this year as the crop appears in bunches everywhere in the field.
However, Jahangeer urged the authorities if the irrigation facility has been installed that should be utilized on time and allow farmers to get its benefits so that saffron production could further increase and on time.
Another farmer, Syed Farooq Ahmad, complained of poor irrigation facilities being provided by the authorities.
“If authorities say that 128 borewells have been put in place but not put functional so far,” he said.
“We are dependent on natural irrigation. If the authorities put in function the irrigation system the production of crop will increase every year”, he added.
Farooq also alleged that the authorities who had fixed Rs 225 per gram of saffron are asking to sell for Rs 175 per gram, rather to increase the rate which he said is cause of concern for the farmers.
He said that Iranian saffron has downed the demand of Kashmiri saffron in the markets.
In 2022, the saffron production had reached close to 18 tonnes and in 2021, it was around 16 tonnes.
Chairman Saffron Association of Kashmir Abdul Majid Wani said that Iran is producing the highest quantity of saffron and they are deciding the rates and not the saffron growers of Kashmir.
He said the GI tag (a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin) given by the authorities has given a good rate to the Kashmiri saffron growers.
Wani said a gram of saffron is being sold in Kashmir for Rs 250.
He said that there is a great demand for Kashmiri saffron from all over the country and outside. The Chairman said it will take a week to complete the process of harvesting the crop and to reach Saffron Park.
Wani said that those who have seed in their field fetch bumper crop this year.
The Director Agriculture Kashmir, Iqbal Chowdhary told UNI that earlier the temperature was down due to weather vagaries that did not allow the flowers to bloom. He said since there has been an improvement in the temperature the bunch of flowers groom in the fields everywhere.
Chowdhary said that the crop cut by the farmers being taken several times is deciding the outcome of the crop. However, he said the fields are seen blossoming everywhere at Pampore and its adjoining areas.
Regarding fixation of rates and the Iranian Saffron, the Director Agriculture said that “some people are doing adulteration by mixing the Iranian Saffron with Kashmiri saffron and selling that at cheap prices”.
“A buyer and seller meeting would also be organized where the rates of saffron will be decided on the spot” Chowdhary Iqbal said and added “whatever possible for the government for the promotion of saffron, a detailed plan would be made public soon”.
He said the issue of irrigation has been taken up with the government of India and It would be completed.
The Director said that irrigation pipes have been stolen from the fields which were installed earlier.