Pampore, Nov 2 (KNO): During the two-day Jashn-e-Zaffran programme in Dusoo Pampore area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, saffron growers voiced their concerns about the “declining” saffron production and called for the revival of the industry.
Growers, speaking with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), said there is a need to focus on finding solutions to rejuvenate the saffron industry and increase production instead of celebrating the Jashn-e-Zaffran programme.
They pointed out that celebrating is appropriate when production is on the rise, but given the current “decline” and “near-collapse” of the industry, there is little to celebrate.
“Majority of the farmers haven’t even tilled their saffron land as they no longer are interested in it due to the outcome,” they said, adding that a significant number of farmers have converted their saffron fields to cultivate apple trees, mustard, and other crops.
The number of saffron growers has been steadily decreasing, and the government has failed to take significant steps to revive this once-thriving industry, according to the growers.
They alleged that the government’s claims about production and other aspects are untrue and do not reflect the ground reality. “Even the National Saffron Mission has failed as it fell short of providing the promised relief to the growers, particularly in terms of irrigation facilities,” they said.
Growers highlighted the lack of irrigation facilities, damage caused by porcupines and rodents, and the conversion of saffron land as major challenges facing the saffron industry. They urgently called on authorities to address these issues to revive the industry and improve the livelihoods of the growers.
Officials present at the event assured the growers that their legitimate demands would be addressed.
Shabnam Kamili, Secretary of the J&K Agriculture Production Department (JKAPD), who served as the chief guest, called for preserving the saffron industry, which has been a part of the region’s heritage for centuries. “It is the responsibility of everyone to work jointly to uplift this industry,” she said.
Kamili mentioned the significance of Geographical Indication (GI) tagging in gaining recognition for saffron in both domestic and international markets and increasing its value. She highlighted the government’s efforts to boost production and promote pure saffron to a global audience.
The Secretary JKAPD said the department is working to increase production and take pure saffron to every corner of the world.
“Adulteration is currently the biggest challenge before us and questions are being raised over the integrity of saffron that definitely puts its impact,” she said, adding that the government has taken it into their own hands by introducing GI tagging to stop adulteration.
Kamili said while the government provides facilities, it is the social responsibility of the public to safeguard and utilise them effectively.
“The government’s job is to provide facilities and it is the social responsibility of the public to take care of such facilities but that hasn’t happened here as the pipes laid for irrigation purposes were used by growers for domestic use and in this regard, FIR has been registered and further investigation is going on,” she said.
Shabnam acknowledged the financial constraints faced in the previous year and unfavourable climatic conditions affecting various sectors. However, she assured the growers that their grievances would be resolved by the end of the fiscal year.