SRINAGAR: With the Saffron started growing in Sikkim trial runs, media reports indicate that Kashmir may not be the only destination for growing world’s costliest spice. Still, in trail runs, the spice roots were flown from Kashmir, Chandigarh newspaper Tribune reported.
“The cultivation of saffron, said to be the world’s costliest spice, was heretofore restricted to a limited geographical area in the Kashmir Valley such as Pampore, Budgam, Srinagar and Kishtwar regions,” the newspaper reported. “Saffron plants have been acclimatised for conditions and are now flowering in Yangyang, in the southern part of Sikkim, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology today.”
The report said that trials are also underway to grow Saffron in the upper areas of Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Ladakh. This would increase the crop output and consequently have socio-economic spin-offs. The annual demand of saffron in India is about 100 tonnes, but its average production is only 6-7 tonnes per year. The Sikkim trials are being carried out by the North East Centre For Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology.
“The botany and horticulture department of Sikkim Central University carried out tests to understand the soil and actual pH conditions of Yangyang and found it comparable to saffron growing places of Kashmir. Saffron seeds and corms were procured and air transported from Kashmir to Yangyang site by the department. One saffron grower was engaged and stationed to look after the complete growing process, along with the faculty of the university,” the report said. “The corms were irrigated during the month of September and October, which ensured timely corm sprouting and good flower yields. The matching of climatic and geographical conditions between Pampore and Yangyang resulted in successful sample farming of Saffron in Yangyang.”