Kashmir's Saffron Fields Face Threat From Concrete Structures

Kashmir's Saffron Fields Face Threat From Concrete Structures

29 October 2013
India Today
Ahraf Wani

Srinagar: The saffron fields in Kashmir's Pampore have shrinked due to construction activities during the last 20 years. Gulam Nabi, a saffron grower in Pampore which is 25 km from Srinagar says he has not only educated his three sons and daughter by growing saffron in his two-acre saffron field but also met all expenses from the same during his life. Nabi fears land mafia who is paying four times rates for the land against its actual rates for construction purpose. Nabi says he is not willing to sell the field but his sons regard it as a better deal. Saffron is the most expensive and precious spice in the world. The saffron filaments or threads are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower. Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron. Nabi may save his saffron field but many more saffron growers have already sold their fields and houses have been constructed on them. Being situated near Srinagar, the fields have become the next destination for land mafia to build residential houses. During the last 10 years, almost 20 per cent saffron fields of Pampore have been converted into residential plots. Replying to a query on this issue, Jammu and Kashmir agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir said that if farmers are selling saffron fields in Pampore, we are growing it in other areas of Kashmir. The state government with the assistance of the central government has started Project Saffron in Kashmir to boost production but any effect of the initiative is yet to be noticed on the ground.