A haze filled Saffron flower field
A haze filled Saffron flower field (Photo: Maverickbird)

SRINAGAR — Kashmir has recorded 16 metric tonnes of saffron in 2022 which is the highest in the last 27 years.

A senior official said Kashmir produced 16 metric tonnes of saffron in the last year, which is the highest since 1996. “Adequate rain at the proper time helped and that’s why we had good production last year,” the official told news agency KINS.

Bashir Ahmad, a saffron grower, said they witnessed good saffron production last year. “During 2021, I earned Rs 1.20 lakh from saffron cultivation which went up to Rs 1.50 lakh last year,” the official added.

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Saffron is cultivated in three districts including Pulwama, Srinagar and Budgam. Pampore, the township in Pulwama district, produces the most. However, the spice is now being cultivated across different districts of Kashmir valley as well.

Saffron flowers are sensitive to the vagaries of the weather. Its production depends on the weather conditions and the irrigation facilities. One hectare of land produces around 4 kilograms of saffron. Each kilogram of saffron costs Rs 2 to 3 lakh depending upon the demand from the consumers.

Bashir Ahmad, another farmer, said that during the year 2022, the crop was far better than in previous years. He said the GI tag has also benefited the farmers. “Earlier Iranian saffron was being sold on Kashmiri name, which has been stopped,” he added.

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More than 16,000 families are associated with this crop production in the valley.

Kashmiri saffron is of superior quality because of the higher concentration of crocin, a carotenoid pigment that gives saffron its colour and medicinal value. Its crocin content is 8.72% compared to the Iranian variant’s 6.82%.

Saffron, despite its price, is in high demand for its antioxidant properties.

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