Saffron production in Kashmir

Irrigation facility can lead to good crop every year
Saffron is grown commercially in Spain, Kashmir and Iran. But the Kashmir variety is considered the best, and the most expensive.
Saffron is grown commercially in Spain, Kashmir and Iran. But the Kashmir variety is considered the best, and the most expensive. Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Irrigation facility must be provided in the saffron fields to make good crop a permanent feature. There has been an increase in saffron production since last year due to favourable weather conditions and timely rainfall. This year it is said to be a bumper crop.

Prior to last year there was a decline in the yield due to unfavourable weather conditions and lack of timely rains. The absence of irrigation facility proved disastrous.

The farmers say despite increase in production this year and the last year, things can take an ugly turn again in coming years if rains do not occur on time and irrigation arrangements are not made available. According to them, they have been repeatedly demanding the facility, but is yet to be provided.

The good crop during these two years and irrigation facility can motivate the saffron growers, who are cultivating other crops now, to switch back to saffron growing.

The non-availability of irrigation had resulted in low yield. A grower had to spend more on the saffron cultivation and the returns were low.

The discouraging trend forced them to look for other options. The land for saffron production also started shrinking. It was used for non-agricultural purposes. Authorities say they are aware about the irrigation requirement. They say that the work on the irrigation has been completed 70 percent and work on rest 30 percent will start soon.

Once irrigation facility is in place, the dependence on rainfall will come to an end. The concerned authorities must speed up the work so that the growers can get the much needed relief. There is no point sitting over the completion of the irrigation facility and making the growers suffer.

Revival of saffron production on a large scale is very important not only for the growers and buyers but also for the overall economy of Kashmir. Saffron production and trade was providing livelihood to a sizeable section of people.

But, since 1996 its production kept on declining resulting in losses for the farmers. If the irrigation facility was made available timely, the people associated with saffron growing would not have gone through a tough time.

They lost interest in saffron and started cultivating other crops. It was last year that after 25 years good saffron production was recorded and it further increased this year.

It is being hoped now that the production keeps on increasing ever the year and the ordeal the farmers have gone through comes to an end.

The government too has a responsibility towards the revival of saffron cultivation and must provide all facilities including irrigation to the farmers.

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