There is good news year for saffron producers in Kashmir. The annual production calculated at the end of 2020 for this costliest spice has been 13.2 metric tons. This is the highest yield in a decade for this sector in the Valley.
“Great achievement: Annual yield of the world’s costliest spice, saffron, cultivated in Kashmir, has crossed 13 metric tonnes for the first time in the last 10 years,” said the Lieutenant Governor of J&K, Manoj Sinha in a tweet.
From the low yield of 1.5 Mts in 2011-12 to 13.2 Mts, this journey has been an extraordinary one for the sector in J&K. A decade back, the low yield had virtually prompted the experts to warn of extinction of this crop in the Valley.
“Due to global warming and other conditions, the crop was declining. The government, however, took this on. The national saffron mission has gone ahead and been a great help. We went in to find the reasons behind the decline”, says Director Agriculture, Kashmir, Chowdhary Muhammad Iqbal.
The details of this growth story are remarkable. The production of 13.2 Mts was achieved on a cultivable area of 3,715 hectares (73,440 kanal) in 2020-21. As per the agriculture department, there has been constant growth. In the year 2019, the department of agriculture had recorded a total saffron production of 12.495 Mts. With the current results in the total yield, the productivity has increased to 4.92 kg per hectare in 2020 from 4.07 kg per hectare in 2019.
Officials pin this achievement on two reasons — one is a good snowfall and the second is the rejuvenation of land. “The snowfall is a factor and the other factor is the health of corms supplies to farmers under the National Saffron Mission. The rejuvenation in the land is a great contributor,” says Chowdhary Mohd Iqbal.
The total land under saffron is 3,715 hectares of which 2,500 hectares was brought under the National Saffron Mission’s plan of rejuvenation. In the coming years, all the saffron land will be rejuvenated which the officials are hoping will increase the yield even further.
A good yield and GI tagging that has been introduced for the saffron has increased the earning prospects of the farmers.
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