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Himachal Pradesh to Begin Commercial Cultivation of Saffron

M Kanika
M Kanika
Saffron Cultivation
Saffron Cultivation

The costliest spice in the world, saffron, is all set to find a new place for cultivation in India. For the very first time Himachal Pradesh is introducing saffron (kesar) cultivation at the commercial level, with the goal to not only surpass the production of the spice in neighboring Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory, but also to make India self-reliant in saffron production.

Director of Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research (CSIR) & Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Dr Sanjay Kumar said that the production of disease-free good quality flowering size saffron corms is the main bottleneck of the saffron production, which they had overcome with the continuous research & scientific procedures.

Also Read - You can become rich by cultivating Saffron

Saffron is considered to be the most important spice crop in the Indian Cuisine, since the time immemorial. It also has the medicinal properties. In recent times, it was cultivated in Pampore & Kishtwar regions of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory.

He also said that around 3000-hectare area was under the saffron cultivation in Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory, which produces about 8 to 10 tonnes of Saffron. “The state Himachal Pradesh has the congenial climatic condition for the saffron production and with time, we will not only surpass the Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory’s production of saffron but also help in making India self-reliant in the saffron production”.

In India, the annual demand of the saffron is 100 tonnes per year, but the average production of saffron is 6 to 7 tonnes per year and as the saffron is considered to be the costliest spice, it is sold at the premium price of around 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh per kilo gram in market. To meet the demand of the saffron, it is imported from countries like Afghanistan & Iran.

Saffron
Saffron


The Senior Principal Scientist cum Investigator, Dr. Rakesh Kumar, said that the chemical saffron had three main compounds: Picrocrocin, Safranal & Crocin these are responsible for the color, aroma & the taste of saffron. The saffron cultivation in the non-traditional areas of Sangla valley in Kinnaur, Bharmour, Tissa in Chamba, Nirmand in Kullu, Bara banghal in Kangra districts of the Himachal Pradesh was possible, because these areas have the suitable climate for the saffron production, and it could give farmers a higher return compared to traditional crops.
The corn sowing begin in the month of September or October and the flowers would blossom within the months’ time producing for harvesting of the stigma, and the female part of the flower is known as “Kesar”.

Dr. Sanjay said that last year they introduced saffron to the farmers of Himachal Pradesh for experimental cultivation and this year they will be distributing the corms for the commercial production of saffron, which is the perennial crop. He added that they are not asking farmers to stop growing the other traditional crops, but they are just asking them to start cultivating the saffron on their unutilized field to double the income and the cultivation of saffron will definitely play a valuable and the most important role in social, economic, ecological and cultural aspects of the local communities.

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