Saffron blooms in J&K's Rajouri as cultivation trial bears fruit: officials

As per officials, the farmers of the adjoining area have also expressed their desire to cultivate saffron in the forthcoming season even as tthe challenge for the Agriculture Department and the farmer remains to be the protection, preservation and multiplication of the seed for future cultivation.
Saffron blooms in J&K's Rajouri as cultivation trial bears fruit: officials
Representational PictureMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar, Jan 3: Influenced by the cultivation of saffron in Kishtwar district, authorities in J&K's Rajouri district on Monday claimed to have grown the valued spice saffron for the first time in the district after a successful cultivation trial.

As per an official handout, the District Administration Rajouri took up the project on an experimental basis through the Agriculture Department in Darhal sub-division "as the terrain and climatic conditions of that area are almost akin to that of Kishtwar".

The department selected one farmer Vishal Chander Sharma of Panchayat Kot Dhara, Block Dhangri, Zone Fatehpur who possesses only 15 kanal un-irrigated land in which he has been growing wheat and maize crops over the years.

Sharma, as per the official, agreed to cultivate saffron on 15 marlas for which the saffron seed (ora) was purchased by the Agriculture Department from Pampore in south Kashmir and supplied to him. In addition to the seed, some other assistance like fertilizer, labour charges, weedicides etc were also provided to him.

Sowing of the seed was done on August 24, 2021 but after 3-4 days of sowing, there were heavy rains for 28 days affecting its germination and delayed sprouting while flowers bloomed on December 12.

The blooming process continued for 15 days resulting in 734 flowers in total and on average 45-50 flowers per day. Plucking of the flowers was done on the same day of blooming.

As per officials, the farmers of the adjoining area have also expressed their desire to cultivate saffron in the forthcoming season even as tthe challenge for the Agriculture Department and the farmer remains to be the protection, preservation and multiplication of the seed for future cultivation.

Sharma, first farmer to cultivate the saffron "is highly thankful to the District Administration Rajouri and Department of Agriculture for motivating him to cultivate saffron in this area", officials said.

"Vishal was previously dependent on subsistence agriculture and was cultivating wheat and maize but now he is keen to cultivate saffron crop in his fields to earn more income to improve his socio-economic status".

Saffron cultivation has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in J&K, mainly Pampore, followed by Budgam, Srinagar and Kishtwar districts but after the successful conduct of saffron cultivation trial, the district administration Rajouri and the Department of Agriculture are also looking at extending the cultivation of saffron to other areas where it feels will favour its cultivation to increase farmers income.

"District Administration Rajouri under the leadership of DC Rajouri, Vikas Kundal is making persistent efforts to ameliorate the socio-economic condition of the farmers by motivating them to go for commercial agriculture from subsidence agriculture and concrete measures are being taken in this regard. Saffron cultivation trial is just one more move in this direction and much more to come in near future for the welfare of the farmer's community".

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