- Saffron production has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
- Pampore region, in India, commonly known as Saffron bowl of Kashmir, is the main contributor to saffron production, followed by Budgam, Srinagar, and Kishtiwar districts of Kashmir.
- Saffron has traditionally been associated with the famous Kashmiri cuisine.
- It’s medicinal values were considered as part of the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir.
- As saffron growing was confined to very specific areas in Kashmir, its production remained limited.
- Though the National Mission on Saffron focused on several measures to improve its farming, the measures were still limited to the specified areas of Kashmir.
Climatic conditions for Saffron
- In India, saffron corms are cultivated during the months of June and July and at some places in August and September. It starts flowering in October.
- Saffron grows well at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. It needs a photoperiod (sunlight) of 12 hours.
- For saffron cultivation, we need an explicit climatological summer and winter with temperatures ranging from no more than 35 or 40 degree Celsius in summer to about –15 or –20 degree Celsius in winter.
- It also requires adequate rainfall that is 1000-1500 mm per annum.
- It grows in many different soil types but thrives best in calcareous , humus-rich and well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 8.
Why in News?
Saffron cultivation in India, which was so far confined to Kashmir, may soon expand to the North East of India. Plants from seeds transported from Kashmir to Sikkim and acclimatized there are now flowering in Yangyang in the Southern part of Sikkim.
Pilot Project in North East
- North East Centre For Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) is an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology.
- It has supported a pilot project to explore the feasibility of growing saffron in North East region of India, with the same quality and higher quantity.
- The Botany and Horticulture department of Sikkim Central University carried out tests to understand the soil and actual pH conditions of Yangyang of Sikkim.
- They found it comparable to saffron growing places of Kashmir.
- The project also focused on post-harvest management and value addition of saffron so that quality saffron drying and efficient post-harvest processing can improve saffron recovery, thereby improving its production.
- The annual demand of the saffron in India is 100 tonnes per year, but its average production is about 6-7 tonnes per year.
- To meet this demand, saffron is imported from countries like Iran and Afghanistan. So the extension of saffron production will help in meeting the annual demand in india.
- It will help in reducing imports and it will also diversify agriculture and provide new opportunities to the farmers in the North-East.