Failure of National Saffron Mission led to production decline in Kashmir

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Pulwama: The saffron production in Kashmir is persistently decreasing due to the non-availability of irrigation system, say growers.

National Saffron Mission, a Rs 400 crore worth project that was started by central government in the year 2010 to tackle the problems faced by cultivators has completely failed as the locals’ claim that the yield is decreasing with each passing year.

Even as the scheme was extended by two years, the farmers said that increase in the yield is still a distant dream.

As per the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), data available with Agriculture department show an increase in the yield since 2010 but following the 2014 floods, the yield started decreasing sharply.

According to saffron mission directorate, around 100 borewells were dug out of 128 proposed borewells.

However, the locals refuted the claims, saying that only eight to 10 were installed among which only few are functional.

“The scheme was not implemented on ground properly, thus the promises by the government proved hoax,” Tariq Ahmed, a resident of Kadalbal Pampore, who is also a saffron cultivator, said.

“I was cultivating saffron on about 4 Kanals of land on which I used to get about 1 Kg of produce upto 2014. However, from last few years I got just about 100 grams and this year I got a yield little more than last few years.” he said.

The long dry spell in last few years is showing its impact on the crop this year as the corn couldn’t bloom fully and became dry, said another local resident, adding that there is need to get corn irrigated at the appropriate time but due to unavailability of water the whole corn gets exhausted.

Locals said that agriculture department and mechanical engineering department are blaming each other for the failure of the scheme.

The locals are demanding the attention of central government and UT government to look into the matter as saffron is on verge of ‘extinction’.

Chief Agriculture Officer Pulwama, Ghulam Mohammad said that this year there is more production of saffron as compared to last few years.

He said that he has already asked mechanical department to make borewells functional till ending this year after which growers will get benefit—(KNO)

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