Srinagar, Feb 06: The Centre on Tuesday revealed that saffron production has declined by over 67 percent from 2010 to 2024. However, there was a marginal increase of 4 percent in the last year.
In response to a question by National Conference Member Parliament, Hasnain Masoodi, the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Arjun Munda, as per the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) stated that as per estimates from the Office of Financial Commissioner (Revenue) of Jammu & Kashmir, saffron production in the region decreased from 8.0 MT in 2010-11 to 2.6 MT in 2023-24 (provisional), marking an overall decline of about 67.5% over the period. He added that during the last year, from 2022-23 to 2023-24, saffron production marginally increased by 4%.
Munda further informed that out of the 128 deep bore wells sanctioned under the Mission, 123 have been constructed by the Horticulture Department and handed over to the Mechanical Engineering Department, Kashmir, for further linkage with the Sprinkler Irrigation Systems.
“The Mechanical Engineering Department, Kashmir has successfully connected 73 deep bore wells with the Sprinkler Irrigation Systems having a command of 2187.08 hectares. However, the irrigation facilities are not being utilized fully as the User Groups for management and upkeep of these bore wells have not been created as per the Mission Guidelines and have not been handed over to the farmer user groups,” he said.
Regarding adverse effects on saffron flowers, the minister said no adverse effects have been reported due to factors such as cement dust from industrial establishments.
“The Agriculture Production Department along with the revenue authorities, UT of J&K are implementing the Saffron Act, Saffron rules and other revenue laws which safeguard the saffron land from being diverted for any other purposes,” he added.
Speaking with KNO, the growers stressed the need to focus on finding solutions to rejuvenate the saffron industry and increase production. They said a large number of farmers have converted their saffron fields to cultivate apple trees, mustard, and other crops due to declining interest in saffron.
The growers alleged that the officials at the UT level had claimed an increase in production and other aspects, which they found to be untrue and 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.
Officials informed KNO that since the year 2012-13, the land under saffron in Kashmir has remained constant at 3,665 hectares as no assessment has been carried out since then. Meanwhile, the production in the year 2012-13 was 12.45 metric tons with a yield of 3.45 quintals per hectare. In 2013-14, the production increased to 14.01 metric tons with a yield of 3.82 quintals per hectare. However, in 2014-15, the production dropped to 5.57 metric tons with a yield of 1.52 quintals per hectare.
In 2015-16, the production of saffron rose to 16.17 metric tons with a yield of 4.41 quintals per hectare, and in 2016-17, it further increased to 16.45 metric tons with a yield of 4.49 quintals per hectare. However, the production declined significantly in 2017-18 to 5.20 metric tons with a yield of 1.42 quintals per hectare. In 2018-19, it slightly increased to 5.65 metric tons with a yield of 1.54 quintals per hectare.
In the year 2019-20, the production drastically dropped to 0.02 metric tons with a yield of 4.44 quintals per hectare. The saffron production remained stagnant at 0.02 metric tons in both 2020-21 and 2021-22, with a yield of 4.92 quintals per hectare each year—(KNO)