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Kashmir’s Saffron Farmers’ Earnings Dry Up Due To Weak Rains

Farmers harvest three batches of saffron flowers in one season

Srinagar:  Saffron of the highest quality grows in the fields at Pampore on the outskirts of Srinagar, but this year there are no blooming saffron crops — only clusters of purple flowers, that too barely in sight. The saffron yield of Kashmir valley is likely to be the lowest in decades as the region is seeing the worst dry spell after monsoon in 35 years, causing low soil moisture and eventually resulting in low saffron flower density.Mohammad Yusuf Wani has never felt so disappointed. The saffron farmer said there has been a 10-fold drop in yield this season.

“Our produce used to be 15 to 20 kilograms every year. This year we expect just 1.5 to 2 kg,” Mr Wani said.

Farmers harvest three batches of saffron flowers in one season, but this year even as the harvest season draws to a close, most are still waiting to pick the first batch of flowers.

The Kashmir weather department said the situation is alarming.


Farmers say they may now switch from saffron to profitable fruit cultivation

“There has been extremely less rainfall this year, just 3 millimetres in September and no rainfall in October, very little rainfall in August. Due to low rainfall in the peak growth period of crops, there is reduction of yield,” said Mukhtar Ahmad, Deputy Director, Kashmir weather office.

There is also no irrigation system for over 3,000 hectares of land under saffron cultivation at Pampore. Farmers depend on a few borewells installed by the government, which remain mostly locked. Farmers said they may be forced to abandon saffron farming and turn to high-density fruit cultivation.

“People want to switch over to apple or walnut cultivation. We spent Rs 20,000 for saffron cultivation and got just Rs 1,000 in return. What’s the point?” said Ghulam Ahmad, another saffron farmer.



Written by Anadkat Madhav

I am a software engineer, project manager, and Mobile Application Developer currently living in Rajkot, India. My interests range from technology to entrepreneurship. I am also interested in programming, web development, design, Mobile Application development.

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