There is good news for the saffron farmers in the Kashmir Valley this year. It’s a bumper harvest of saffron in the valley which has brought happiness among the saffron growers of Kashmir. Farmers say that the production is double pf what it was last year.
Thousands of families are associated with saffron farming in the Kashmir region. They are busy plucking the saffron flowers from the fields.
Kashmir has more than 3700 hectares of land under the cultivation of saffron. The Pampore area in Pulwama is the main hub for growing saffron. However, the spice is now being cultivated across different districts of Kashmir valley as well.
“As compared to last year, the production this year is twice of what it was the previous year. Adequate rain at the proper time helped and that’s why we had the best production. This is much better than the previous year. The GI tag is good for us, and will benefit us. It makes sure the purest Kashmiri saffron is sold in the market,” said Farhad, a saffron farmer.
The tourists visiting the valley are stopping at the saffron farms to see how it is grown. A lot of tourists are buying saffron from the farms as well.
”With the grace of God, the crop is much better this year than what we had hoped for. We have been harvesting for days and you can see this farm was harvested yesterday and today. There is so much to be picked as well. This whole place is dependent on saffron as we grow most of the saffron from the Kashmir region,” said Nasir Hamid, another saffron farmer.
“GI tagging is beneficial for us, but we have seen a lot of non-Kashmiri products being sold across India on Kashmir name and that needs to be stopped. Although GI tagging has not reached ground level farmers. The tourists visit our farms, and they see with their own eyes how we grow saffron. This also makes sure they believe the authenticity of the saffron from here. The world’s best saffron is grown in the Kashmir valley and demand for it has been good,” he added.
The tourists are appreciative of the farmers growing saffron in the valley. It is a unique experience for them to see the saffron farms.
”It is a unique experience, we come from Pune and don’t get to see all this. Saffron is expensive and seeing its farming was a great experience. Kashmiri saffron is the best and is known all over the world. It provides great fragrance and taste to dishes,” said Vikrant, a tourist.
Saffron is used on numerous occasions in India. The use of saffron in puja and making sweets for festivals is considered auspicious.
”We have come to see saffron farming as we use it in so many things, while making sweets, and during Puja. It is considered very auspicious. I am seeing the saffron flower for the first time. All sweets like shrikhand are made with it,” said Preeti, another tourist.
The saffron farmers have been demanding that the rates of saffron should be revised. With everything becoming expensive in the market and the process involved in growing and processing the saffron becoming costlier as well, the saffron farmers say the rates need to be increased for them to sustain.