Growers worried as saffron fields, produce shrinks

Amid ban commercial complexes, houses coming up in saffron fields in Pampore: Growers Association

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Construction in saffron land in Pampore | Photo: Younis Khaliq

SRINAGAR — Pampore, which is known as the saffron town, is witnessing an uptick in constructions in saffron fields, causing a decline in saffron production as well as shrinking land for the prized spice.

Locals from Pampore told the news agency KNO that land under saffron is shrinking because of residential and commercial complexes coming up in saffron fields. For this reason, many growers have switched to other crops in the absence of facilities and the government’s non-seriousness towards the promotion of saffron.

Locals said that the much-hyped National Saffron Mission has not yielded results as the authorities were unable to make water pumps functional meant for irrigating the fields in the dry season.

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Chairman of Saffron Growers Association Kashmir, Abdul Majeed Wani told KNO that the Manmohan Singh-led government released over 400 crores under National Saffron Mission so as to provide better facilities to growers. “However, the mission could not achieve its target as the irrigation system remained incomplete,” he said. This, according to him, prompted many to switch to other crops.

Wani said that since 2014, most of the growers have lost interest in saffron and the last three years have seen a decline in production. Saffron production has decreased from 16.45 metric tonnes to 0.02 metric tonnes in the last five years in Kashmir, according to official data.

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He also highlighted the conversion of saffron fields, saying people are constructing complexes and houses amid the ban.

He appealed to the government to come up with a seed nursery so that growers can get seeds there to continue growing saffron.

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