Persistent dry spell in Kashmir valley has led a 80 per cent drop in the production of saffron causing Rs 200 crore financial loss to the farmers.Official figures reveal that saffron production in 2017 was 3.5 metric tonnes against 17 metric tonnes in 2016. Estimates worked out by the Agriculture department peg the financial loss at over Rs 200 crore.”On an average, our saffron production is 17 metric tonnes. This year there is a 80 per cent drop in production. One kilogramme saffron sells at Rs 1.6 lakh, and by that estimate we have suffered roughly Rs 200 crore loss,” said Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, director of department of agriculture, Kashmir.Experts say increased temperature and no rainfall during sprouting period are the main reasons for crop failure this year.”It requires rainfall in September. In addition, temperatures should also be moderate. Moisture in corn helps sprouting. We had no rainfall, which resulted in crest formation,” Andrabi said.Touted as world’s most expensive spice, saffron is used in multiple ways in multiple industries — ranging from medicine, beauty, colour, food, among others. Kashmiri saffron kahwa (tea) is a delicacy which is served on special occasions signifying the importance of the guests. It is used in beauty products and has a high medicinal value.Around 3,715 hectares of land is used for saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pampore in the Pulwama district of south Kashmir tops the list with 3,200 hectares under saffron cultivation. It is followed by Budgam and Srinagar with 328 and 165 hectares respectively under the saffron cultivation.”Production is almost nil and farmers are ruined. We have suffered huge financial losses this year. Government should come up with a scheme to help the farmers in distress. We have no other source of income,” said GM Pampori, president J&K Saffron Growers and Dealers Association.”Our worry is now about the mother corn. You need good water regime for multiplication of corn for next year’s crops. If the dry spell continues for another month, it will have catastrophic effect on future crops,” said Andrabi.SUDDEN DIPOfficial data reveals that saffron production in 2017 was 3.5 metric tonnes against 17 metric tonnes in 2016. Experts blame increased temperature and lack of rain in the Valley are the primary reasons behind failure of the crop this year.
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