Farmers need to stick to guidelines
PAMPORE: With years of study on enhancing saffron production in the valley, the Saffron Research Centre, Dussoo, is well set to implement its new technology, provided the farmers stick to the centre’s guidelines, said the Saffron Research Centre in-charge, Dr S A Dar.
He said that after scientists at the Shere-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K) realised that saffron production was on the decline in the state, they researched the causes.
“After the research concluded, it was found that three things had led to the decline in the crop: low precipitation at critical times, reduction in corm and inefficient marketing,” Dr Dar said, adding that last year’s saffron production was only three metric tonnes, when it was usually 17-18 metric tonnes 15 years ago.
He also told Kashmir Reader that one more reason that has surfaced for the decline is the employment of non-local labourers in hoeing who can also have damaged the corm as they do not know the corm’s position and how it can occasionally get peeled away by the strokes of hoeing.
He further said that the farmers have confined hoeing only to September, which has also resulted in low seed production.
Dr Dar said that all the three causes needed a relook so that the state’s once-advanced saffron industry could be revived and the farmers could reap the dividends they used to previously.
He also told Kashmir Reader that keeping these three things in mind, the experts in SKUAST-K started a campaign to revive the industry and developed two technologies to enhance the crop.
The first one is the plantation in which the scientists researched population of corm to be planted per Kannal of the land and irrigation.
“We implemented the technology ourselves and exhibited it to farmers so that they too can execute the same technology in order to get good dividends,” he said, adding that some farmers who adopted the technologies have got a bumper crop in this season.
He further added that the crop’s flowering at the land under the research centre was tremendous.
He further told Kashmir Reader that if the centre’s techniques were implemented, as per its guidelines, then a yield of six to eight kilograms per hectare could be achieved.
For irrigation, 128 borewells were to be dug and installed with machinery, which would have had an exponential effect on production, but only seven have been made functional.
Dr Dar said that the Mechanical Engineering Division has assured that they would complete the process by15 November.
He reiterated that if the farmers would stick to the techniques, particularly the corm population and the schedule of irrigation, then they would not fall on desperate times again and the sheen of the industry would be revived.
Meanwhile, a weeklong Saffron Mela organised by SKUAST-Kashmir at the institute also concluded in which many farmers took part and could witness the flowering based on the techniques discovered by the scientists.
Vice-Chancellor SKAUST-K Nazeer Ahmad told Kashmir Reader during the Mela that the scientists working on saffron were trying their best to revive the prized crop and have developed a new variety called Shalimar Saffron, which would be provided to farmers soon.