For long, saffron production has been restricted to a limited geographical area in Kashmir’s Pampore region. But now, the government is looking at expanding its production to the North East of India. Some saffron seedlings had been transported to Sikkim and has flowered in Yangyang in the southern part of the North-East state.
Saffron is the world’s expensive spice. In India, it has traditionally been associated with famous Kashmiri cuisine, and its medicinal values were regarded as part of the the valley’s rich cultural heritage. But now, this spice’s production is no longer confined to Kashmir. The North East Center for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR), an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology, and the Government of India supported a pilot project to explore the feasibility of growing it in the North East region, that too with the same quality but higher quantity.
Tests were carried out by the Botany and Horticulture department of Sikkim Central University to understand the soil and acidity conditions of Yangyang. The result was comparable to the spice’s growing places in Kashmir. According to an official government statement, the spice’s seeds/corns were purchased and air transported from Kashmir to Yangyang site. A saffron grower was also engaged to take care of the complete growing process, along with the faculty of the universty. The statement said that the seeds were irrigated in September and October. This ensured timely corn sprouting and good flower yields.
Furthermore, the matching of climatic and geographical conditions between Pampore and Yangyang led to a successful sample farming of saffron in Yangyang. Officials also focused on post-harvest management and value addition of saffron so that quality drying and efficient post-harvest processing can improve its recovery and boost production.