Srinagar, July 27: SKUAST-Kashmir and Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia and Industry Partner Epistem Solutions are collaborating to work on “Aeroponics in Saffron Cultivation”, which is soil and water less cultivation in a controlled environment.
The novel idea of saffron cultivation by Ph.D Scholar Munjib Maryam has been well appreciated by experts in WSU, Australia for its novelty and the impact it can create globally. The interface meeting was conducted online on 25.7.2022 and chaired by Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nazir A. Ganai with other members present included Prof. Rohitashw Kumar, Associate Dean, College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology; Ms. Nisha Rakhesh, Senior Advisor Research Strategy and Partnership (WSU); Prof. Dharma Hagere (WSU), Expert in Automation and Recycling of Water.
Saffron, the prized spice of Kashmir, known for its quality, aroma and medicinal value, is presently restricted to a small area of 3700 ha in Pampore of district Pulwama. Over the years climate change, moisture stress, low yield and corm rot have been plaguing this sector. SKUAST-Kashmir made a successful breakthrough of indoor cultivation of saffron which is now extended to aeroponic cultivation.
During the interface, this joint research project was proposed by Associate Dean, College of Agri-Engineering & Technology and doctoral student Munjib Maryam to boost the prospectus of involving the automation and indoor farming in the cultivation of Saffron. A prototype is also envisaged to be innovated under the programme for adoption among the stakeholders. The industrial partner is entrusted to support the research study through one year long internship programme. The students will work under the supervision of one advisor from Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia. They offered this fellowship for two students initially one from Engineering and another from Plant Physiology.
Prof. Ganai deliberated on involving the precision farming to ensure the judicious application of scarce and costly resources. He also laid special emphasis on indoor farming, nutrient application and corm multiplication to boost the productivity of world’s costlier crop - Saffron. It is to mention that SKUAST-K is working tirelessly to automate the agricultural system for sustainability and agricultural development.