Pulwama: The prolonged dry spell in the Valley has proven detrimental to the Saffron cultivation in Kashmir.
Saffron growers say that the prolonged dry spell in autumn season from last two years has been a persistent problem for the crop and has been affecting its yield.
Shakeel Ahmed, a saffron grower from Chandhara village of Pampore Tehsil in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district predicts a slump yield this year as compared to last three years.
He said that during favorable weather conditions, farmers harvest three batches of saffron flowers.
However, due to the prolonged dry spell, the yield will be too low.
He said that they have apprehensions that if there is no rainfall then they will not be able to pluck even a single batch of saffron flowers, which will in turn result in great losses for the growers.
Rafiq Ahmed, another saffron grower from Namlabal area of Pampore town said that there is need of a mega irrigation system in Pampore town as there are about 3,200 hectares of land under saffron cultivation in Pampore and it is impossible to irrigate such vast patch of land without an irrigation system.
As per official records area under saffron cultivation has decreased from 5707 hectares to 3715 hectares from the last two decades.
The decline as per locals has came due to the traditional cultivation methods, uncertainty of weather and the diseases that have hit the saffron cultivators.
Pertinently, in 2010, the centre announced the National Saffron Mission (NSM) to tackle the problems faced by the cultivators.
The NSM a 400 Crore project is yet to give any fruitful results as sprinkle irrigation that is guaranteed under the mission has not been started so far.
As per official records, under the mission about 101 borewells were dug out of total 126 proposed.
However, despite the elapse of seven years only eight borewells have been installed so far.
The locals alleged that only two to three borewells are functional.
Chief Agriculture officer Pulwama, Ghulam Muhammad said that dry spell has badly affected saffron production and it has affected both the corn as well as flower.
He accused Mechanical engineering department of failing to complete the irrigation project despite getting advance payments from the ministry.