Saffron production in Kashmir has crossed 13.36 tonnes in 2020 which is recorded as the highest production ever in a decade. This high production is said to be caused by a scheme in 2010 which was introduced to rejuvenate the cultivation of the spice.
Saffron is also known to be the world’s most expensive spice and some even call saffron as the king of condiments. Saffron is priced between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh per kilogram.
In the 1990s, Saffron production achieved new height in Kashmir as the annual average output reached 15.5 tonnes. Saffron production in the valley has declined since then. People say that saffron’s production went down as saffron fields, mainly in Pampore near Srinagar, which are depended on rain for irrigation suffered. Many times either too much rain falls and at other times, too little which caused this decline in production.
In India, only Kashmir produces saffron. Saffron industry provides employment to around 20,000 families and is the region’s second-largest revenue earner after horticulture.
Chief agriculture officer Mohammad Qasim Ghani gave the credit for this increase in the production to the National Mission on Saffron which was launched in 2010. Under this scheme, root rejuvenation of the crop and sprinkler irrigation were launched to help the saffron farmers.
Ghani pointed out that in areas where this scheme was implemented, saffron yield has increased to 4.5 to 5 kilograms per hectare. He believes that Kashmir can produce upto 6 to 7 kilograms of saffron per hectare. In the 1980s, saffron production in Kashmir was over 6 kilograms per hectare. Ghani said that dry weather was one of the major reasons why saffron production went low earlier.
Jammu & Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha’s office tweeted to praise the achievement.
Unfortunately, Kashmiris have started to grow less saffron than they used to do. Presently, Saffron is grown in 3,700 hectares as compared to 5,500 hectares in the late 1980s. The Rs 410 crore National Mission on Saffron Mission is providing benefits to farmers who have cultivated saffron in 3,500 hectares. Of this, 3,200 hectares of the land where saffron is cultivated is located in Pampore, and the rest in Srinagar and Budgam.