Kashmir saffron, which is a spice and health rejuvenator and the pride of Jammu and Kashmir, has been given geographical indication (GI) tag, protecting the uniqueness of the farm produce. The recognition was formally published in the latest GI Journal by the GI Registry.
The unique characteristics of Kashmir saffron are described as longer and thicker stigmas, natural deep-red colour of stigmas, high aroma, bitter flavour, chemical-free processing and high quantity of crocin (colouring strength), safranal (flavour) and picrocrocin (bitterness), said IPR attorney and GI specialist P Sanjai Gandhi, quoting the GI journal.
Kashmir saffron is cultivated and harvested in the Karewas (high lands) of Jammu and Kashmir by local farmers. This produce is famous all over the world as a spice, health rejuvenator and is also used for cosmetics as well as for medicinal purposes.
Narrating the uniqueness of Kashmir saffron, the journal said: “Besides having high medicinal value, Kashmir saffron has been associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine and represents the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir. The Kashmir saffron has gained its name over the ages due to its unique qualities such as high aroma, deep colour, long and thick threads (stigmas) which can be found only in the saffron grown and produced in Jammu and Kashmir.”
“The Kashmir saffron is the only saffron grown at an altitude of 1600m to 1800m above the mean sea level in the world, which adds to its uniqueness and differentiates it from other Saffron varieties available in the market world over,” it said.
The directorate of agriculture (Kashmir division), which had applied for the tag, said Kashmir saffron is grown in Pampore and Kishtwar. In fact, Kishtwar is commonly known as ‘The Land of Sapphire and Saffron.’ It is also grown in a few places like Budgam, Srinagar, Pulwama Khrew, Chirar-i-Sharief and others.
As for the proof of origin, the department of agriculture had mentioned how cultivation was introduced by Central Asian immigrants around first century BC. It was also known as Bahukam in ancient Sanskrit literature (Amarakosara). According to Chinese records, in 647 AD, the king of Kashmir had presented saffron as gift to the Chinese emperor. In 519 AD the King of Cambodia had sent a consignment of saffron to China.
Kashmir saffron is chemical-free and organic and available in three types: Lachha saffron that consists of the stigmas just separated from the flowers and dried up without any further processing, Mongra saffron which has stigmas detached from the flower, dried in the sun and then further processed traditionally and Guchhi saffron which is packed loose in air-tight containers and the stigmas joined together and tied with cloth thread.(Agencies)