PRESERVE THIS TREASURE

 The daily Greater Kashmir has drawn attention to the fact that Kashmir has lost 22 hectares of saffron land in two decades. Lack of irrigation at proper time has adversely affected the production. It is a sorry state of affairs and concerned government departments have to take measures to improve production. There is a need to come out with a comprehensive project to sustain the cultivation of saffron on the part of government.

Excerpts:

“The Kashmir valley has lost 2200 hectares of saffron land in the last two decades. As per official figures, saffron crop was cultivated on 5707 hectares of land at Pampore in 1996, which has now reduced to an all time low of 3500 hectares. The saffron flowers are extremely sensitive to weather conditions. Lack of proper irrigation at proper time has also adversely affected the production.

Shrinking space:

“About a dozen cement factories and illegal constructions have wreaked havoc with the fields that produce the crop. As many as 300 villages in and around Pampore cultivate the `golden crop’. But the saffron fields that won the state handsome revenue are fast shrinking. And from 16 metric tons, it has annually come down to six metric tons. The Kashmiri saffron is the world’s most expensive by weight and sells for anywhere between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh a kilogram”.

Government Initiative:

“To give boost to the saffron production, Ministry of Agriculture and Production, Government of India started a scheme ‘National Mission on Saffron’ (NSM) in 2010 for seven years with project cost of Rs 400.11 crore. So far, the government has utilised only Rs 199.835 crore. The Centre has extended the period of completion by March 2018. However, the state has recommended its extension to March 2019. Recently a decision has been taken and the mission has been further extended. The `golden crop’ provides livelihood to thousands of persons directly and indirectly. The concerned, therefore, have to take measures to improve production by providing knowhow and high yield seeds. The growers too have to abandon the primitive modes of cultivation and seek the advice of the experts in future especially when the production in areas coming under the NSM was better as compared to other areas. The experts suggest proper irrigation facilities in September which is a crucial period for the crop. The government has to do a lot more besides providing technical knowhow and high quality seeds. The cement dust is killing the crop slowly but surely. It is chocking the saffron fields. Further the authorities need to enforce the ban on constructions on saffron land strictly to save the crop”.

 

[Courtesy: daily Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir, August 02, 2018].

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