From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Kashmir Saffron
Mains level : Not Much
The Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir has organised a saffron festival in the Karewa of Pampore.
- Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”.
- The vivid crimson stigma and styles, called threads, are collected and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food.
- It is cultivated and harvested in the Karewa (highlands) in some regions of Kashmir, including Pulwama, Budgam, Kishtwar and Srinagar.
- It has been associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine and represents the rich cultural heritage of the region.
- Its cultivation is believed to have been introduced in Kashmir by Central Asian immigrants around 1st Century BCE. In ancient Sanskrit literature, saffron is referred to as ‘bahukam’.
- In 2020, the Centre issued a certificate of Geographical Indication (GI) registration for Saffron grown in the Kashmir Valley.
The saffron available in Kashmir is of three types —
- ‘Lachha Saffron’, with stigmas just separated from the flowers and dried without further processing;
- ‘Mongra Saffron’, in which stigmas are detached from the flower, dried in the sun and processed traditionally; and
- ‘Guchhi Saffron’, which is the same as Lachha, except that the latter’s dried stigmas are packed loosely in air-tight containers while the former has stigmas joined together in a bundle tied with a cloth thread
Whats’ so special about Kashmir Saffron?
- The unique characteristics of Kashmir saffron are its longer and thicker stigmas, natural deep-red colour, high aroma, bitter flavour, chemical-free processing, and high quantity of crocin (colouring strength), safranal (flavour) and picrocrocin (bitterness).
- It is the only saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800 m AMSL (above mean sea level), which adds to its uniqueness and differentiates it from other saffron varieties available the world over.
- The National Saffron Mission (launched as a part of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana) was sanctioned by the central government in the year 2010 in order to extend support for creation of irrigation facilities.
- It seeks to facilitate farmers with tube wells and sprinkler sets which would help in production of better crops in the area of saffron production.
- North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) under Saffron Bowl Project has identified few locations in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for saffron cultivation.
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