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Saffron from Jammu & Kashmir set to bloom in Mahabaleshwar

Prity Barman
Prity Barman
Kashmiri Saffron

In a rare experiment, a number of farmers planted Himalayan saffron for the first time in the Mahabaleshwar district of Maharashtra. Saffron flowers have begun to bloom in Mahabaleshwar which is a hill station at 4,500 ft above average sea level with low temperature and suitable soil. 

The spice from the stigma of saffron flowers is worlds most costly and fetches Rs 3-3.5 lakhs per kg in domestic markets. The farmers are praying for the full bloom in January expecting that global warming will not push temperatures above a certain level.  

The planting material in the form of bulbs was sourced from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district by the local farm officials. Mahabaleshwar is known for the widespread production of its strawberries for the last 30 years. 

A Mahabaleshwar farmer said the cost of fruit cultivation has risen over the years, although revenue is not known to cross 3.5 Lakh/acre. He then tried alternate crops and discovered that for 10 years, the saffron bulb would grow the flowers. Strawberry, on the other hand needs replanting from nurseries to fields each year. 

If the trial is successful, one acre will produce more than 2-3 kg of saffron, which is much better than strawberries. 

Agriculture Superintendent Vijay Raut informs BusinessLine that the spice plants are at a temperature of 10 degrees centigrade (from November to January) in Mahabaleshwar. The planting did not happen in August this year because of extended rains, but it took place in October and the farmers are waiting for the harvest in January. 

Ganesh Borde, Mahabaleshwar Agriculture assistant, said the cultivation of saffron is very hard since it is important to process and extract stigma from 1.5 lakhs of flowers for obtaining a kg of saffron spice. 

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