Saffron, which is the stigma of a purple-coloured flower called Crocus sativus, is one of the most in-demand spices in the world. In India, it is cultivated in Kashmir, and harvested in the two weeks of November when the flowers bloom. Most of the saffron is grown in the town of Pampore, which is near Srinagar. Saffron is now ready to be cultivated in Poonch, a town in Jammu and Kashmir too, reported a story, titled Jammu University ropes in farmers for saffron cultivation in J-K’s Poonch, by the Press Trust of India (PTI) on Sunday.
This decision is based on a five-year-long pilot study carried out by the Jammu School of Biotechnology, which conducted experiments in other regions of Kashmir with similar climate conditions as Pampore. Finally, in a farmer’s awareness meet organized on Sunday, the university selected Poonch as one of the potential areas for growing the spice. “The meet was organized to educate 25 selected progressive farmers about cultivation of saffron using in-house technology,” said a spokesman of the biotechnology university to PTI.
There is high demand for the spice as it adds a delicate flavour and a vibrant orange colour to any of the dishes that it is added to. However, this growing demand means that vendors may sell adulterated versions of the spice, such as adding synthetic colour to it. For the best saffron, “quality is a function of colouring strength, flavour, and aroma,” explained Aaditya Kitroo, the owner of Kashmir-based food brand Aagur, in a 2022 Lounge article titled Diwali 2022: How to cook with saffron.
In 2020, saffron from Kashmir received a geographical indication (GI) tag that signifies that “it has a specific geographical origin where a given quality, reputation, or characteristic of the good is attributable to that territory,” reported a Lounge article published in 2020 titled Kashmiri saffron gets the GI tag. Is this the boost that the spice badly needed? This tag promises that the spice grown in Jammu and Kashmir is unadulterated and cultivated in the same area. With saffron farming being extended to more regions like Poonch, the supply of the Kashmiri spice may meet the growing demand for it.