Srinagar: Saffron growers in Kashmir have a reason to rejoice as rates of the world’s costliest crop have gone up after it was given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
In May this year, Kashmiri saffron was given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag with the aim to make it illegal for someone outside the valley to make and sell a similar product under the ‘Kashmiri saffron’ name.
GI tags are indications which identify a product as originating in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.
While Kashmiri farmers say that GI tag has immensely benefitted them in this season.
Recently, authentic GI tagged Kashmiri saffron was made available in the United Arab Emirates.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi also Sunday appealed to people to buy “unique” Kashmiri saffron.
Addressing the nation through 72nd edition of his monthly radio programme and the last ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of the year 2020 on Sunday, he said, “In May this year, the Kashmiri Saffron was given the GO tag through this, we want to make Kashmir saffron a globally popular brand.”
Bashir Ahmad, a saffron grower from Pampore in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district said last year he sold each kilogram of saffron Rs 1.40 lakh.
He cultivated three kilogram saffron on four kanals of land.
“But this year, we sold each kilogram for Rs 1.80 lakh and earned around Rs 5.5 lakh through saffron. This all is because of GI tagging as it has increased the value of Kashmiri saffron in world markets,” Ahmad told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
The Kashmiri saffron is considered the best in the world due to its flavor, colour and aroma.
But the high grade Kashmiri saffron has been hit by adulteration, mixed with the cheaper Iranian variety and being sold across the world. For an ordinary person, it becomes difficult to recognise Kashmiri saffron resulting, its value has degraded.
In Kashmir, three districts – Pulwama, Budgam, Srinagar grow saffron. Among them, Pulwama district’s Pampore has earned the title of Kashmir’s ‘saffron town’ for growing the highest and best quality saffron.
“The GI tagging has really helped us this year. A laboratory has also been set up in Pampore where a proper check is being made only then Kashmiri saffron is being exported with GI tag. The rates of each kilogram have gone up this season from Rs 1.30 lakh in previous years to over Rs 1.80 lakh this year due to GI tagging,” President Saffron Growers Association, Abdul Majeed Wani, who is also native of Pampore, said.
He however said that production remained low this year like previous years.
Wani attributed decline in saffron production to dry weather in September and October.
Saffron flowers are sensitive to vagaries of the weather. Its production depends on the weather conditions and the irrigation facilities.
The harvest season of saffron begins from ending October.
More than 16,000 families are associated with saffron production in Pampore.
A senior official of Agriculture Department said that GI tagging would help farmers to get better returns.
“Everything is being regulated now to stop low quality Iranian saffron which was being sold under the name of Kashmiri saffron,” he said. (KINS)