Saffron production declining each passing year, say farmers

Pampore: Saffron – world’s costliest spice – with immense medicinal value and cultivated in Pampore area of Kashmir, is witnessing a decrease in its production with each passing year, farmers say.

Talking with news agency Kashmir News Observer (KNO), growers from Pampore area of Pulwama district – which is popularly known as saffron town of Kashmir – said that production was decreasing day by day “as the schemes of government only exist on paper and are not being executed on the ground.”

It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated in Iran, Spain and Italy and is harvested by hand. Lately, countries like Afghanistan, US and China have also started producing saffron.

Subzar Ahmad, a local resident, said that production is decreasing with each passing day as the government and research institutions have not been able to take concrete and meaningful steps, mainly credible research, to identify the root causes of the problem and revive this sector.

While farmers recognize that uneven weather, pollution and other environmental factors have reduced production in the area, market prices are also going down due to increased global production and International trade.

Subzar said that the government must make the borewell facilities functional so that growers can spray water whenever required without depending on rain water.

“Rates are less, more and more land under saffron is being converted into apple orchards and other purposes”, he said.

Locals said that while this year the production, as compared to last few years, was better due to timely rains but it was a one-off occasion. We need systematic irrigation facilities, which cannot be created by farmers at their own level, they say.

“The rate at which farmers are selling off their land, the high production costs involved and the meagre returns in saffron cultivation are a perfect factors for the gradual extinction of the spice from Kashmir”, farmers said.

As per experts saffron contains chemicals that might kill cancer cells, decrease swelling in body due to medical conditions and act like an antioxidant, besides many other properties.

—(With KNO inputs)

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