Event aimed to preserve saffron industry for future generations: Director Agriculture
Govt committed to provide facilities, farmers should value, protect them: Shabnam Kamli
Pampore: The grand “Jashn e Zaffran” festival, celebrating the Saffron bloom, took place at the Indian International Kashmir Saffron Trade Centre (IIKSTC) in Dusoo Pampore, located in the heart of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday. The event was graced by the presence of Secretary of Agriculture Production Department, Shabnam Kamli (KAS), who served as the chief guest.
A distinguished lineup of attendees included Director of Agriculture Kashmir, Mohammad Iqbal Chowdhury, Director Horticulture G R Rasool, Joint Director Agriculture, district Agriculture officers, ADC Awantipora Zaffar Husson Shawl, SDPO Pampore Krishan Rattan, BDC members Kakapora Umar Jan, Adv Minah Lateef, Abdul Qayoom Mir, and other senior officials, officers, as well as farmers and students from GDC Pampore and various educational institutions.
The festival’s agenda was not limited to saffron blossoms but also featured a vibrant cultural program. Folk artists and students from different educational institutions came together to entertain the attendees with their captivating performances.
Prior to the festivities, Shabnum Kamili explored various sections of IIKSTC, where she received comprehensive briefings from the experts. She also inspected stalls set up by agriculture and allied departments.
This festival, dedicated to honoring the saffron cultivation heritage of the region, showcased a delightful blend of colors, aromas, and cultural festivities. The festival not only celebrated the saffron bloom but also offered an opportunity for farmers to showcase their dedication and expertise.
During the festival, farmers raised a number of concerns, including issues related to incomplete irrigation facilities, the presence of Parcopine, and saffron fields being damaged by rats. In particular, farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with the irrigation facilities promised under the saffron mission. The borewells installed by the relevant department were deemed ineffective, with allegations of misappropriation of funds. Additionally, farmers pointed out the lack of saffron in saffron fields despite the ongoing festival celebrations.
In her address, Secretary Shabnam Kamli praised the unwavering efforts of the farmers and emphasized the significance of saffron cultivation in the regional economy. Director of Agriculture Kashmir, Mohammad Iqbal Chowdhury, stressed the importance of sustainable farming practices and encouraged farmers to adopt innovative techniques to enhance saffron yields.
Shabnam Kamili urged saffron growers to take full advantage of the scientific facilities available at IIKSTC and embrace different initiatives offered by the department. She recognized the challenges posed by adulteration and emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing this issue to ensure the authentic saffron of Jammu and Kashmir reaches markets worldwide.
Regarding the decrease in saffron production this year, Secretary Shabnam Kamli acknowledged the government’s responsibility to provide facilities such as borewells and pipes but emphasized that the maintenance and protection of these facilities rest with the recipients. She encouraged accountability and responsibility on the part of the farmers who receive these resources.
Director of Agriculture Kashmir, Mohammad Iqbal Chowdhury, emphasized the enduring tradition of saffron cultivation in Kashmir. He discussed efforts to promote and sustain saffron farming, particularly by engaging young farmers and empowering them as entrepreneurs.
Chowdhury explained that the saffron flowering period typically occurs from late October to November 15. To enhance this industry, the Department of Agriculture Kashmir, in collaboration with the tourism sector, has organized a two-day program at IIKSTC Dusoo Pampore. The program aims to facilitate interactions between buyers and sellers, hold symposiums, and engage young farmers, with the goal of empowering the younger generation, providing employment opportunities, ensuring agricultural sustainability, and increasing farmers’ income.
Chowdhury attributed the lower saffron production this year to unseasonal snowfall and temperature fluctuations, highlighting the impact of climate change on saffron cultivation. Despite these challenges, the Department of Agriculture is dedicated to addressing the needs of farmers promptly and providing necessary facilities when required.
Regarding the issue of incomplete borewells in saffron fields, Chowdhury disclosed that out of 121 borewells, 72 have been handed over to farmers. Some farmers, however, have damaged or diverted the pipes for other purposes. An FIR has been lodged for investigation, and the findings will determine the appropriate course of action.
Chowdhury also mentioned that the Government of India has allocated 53 Crore rupees to various departments, including the mechanical department, to fulfill demands and complete essential projects. Adequate funding is crucial for comprehensive agricultural development.
The Director of Agriculture Kashmir highlighted the importance of obtaining a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Kashmiri saffron, which helps maintain the authenticity and identity of the region’s saffron. The GI tag ensures that Kashmiri saffron is recognized and protected, benefiting both farmers and consumers.
In conclusion, the “Jashn e Zaffran” festival not only celebrated the saffron bloom but also provided a platform for addressing the challenges and opportunities in saffron cultivation. It emphasized the importance of accountability, sustainable farming practices, and the preservation of Kashmir’s saffron heritage, while acknowledging the impact of climate change on this vital industry. The commitment of the government and the efforts of farmers and stakeholders to address these issues were highlighted throughout the event.