Pampore (J-K), Nov.7 : Untimely rains have adversely affected saffron cultivation in the Pampore area of the Kashmir Valley this year.
The magnificently blue coloured saffron flowers are prized cash-crop of Kashmir. Being one of the world's costliest spices, saffron is used both in cooking and for producing cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.
Farmers have expressed disappointment over the 40 per cent production of saffron this year.
"This year our production has been almost 50 per cent less than last year, as we didn't even have enough rainfall. When it did rain, it was too late and too little. Still we expect a better crop yield next year," said Arif, a saffron grower.
Although it is saffron harvesting time in Pampore, the crop production this year has hit the rock bottom.
"Saffron growers regret the qualitative deterioration of the crop. The saffron we grew earlier was of so good quality that Pampore town looked like a purple bed, the air thick with its fragrance," Arif added.
"We suggested special irrigation but it will cost an individual farmer far too high to bear. But the government is introducing this irrigation system at subsidised rates. Whoever wants, it can come and start it but the government would not be able to irrigate the whole of 35,00,000 hectares of land. In that case, the farmers would have to come forward to take the initiative," said Bashir Ahmed Dar, Directorf Agriculture, Kashmir.
With the production of the saffron going down and its demand ever growing, the price of saffron has touched an all time high.
But admitting a downfall in the production due to scanty rainfalls, the agriculture department is of the view that the affect would not be more than four to five tones this year.
"Kashmiri saffron is famous worldwide. It is distributed not only across the country but also exported. It is essential to pans, gutkas and medicines besides various Indian dishes," said Mohammad Ashraf Butt, another grower.
Saffron originated in Iran. Highly prized as one of the best natural food flavour and colouring substance, it also has medicinal properties. By Parvez Butt