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Photo by Benyamin Bohlouli on Unsplash

Kashmir saffron is highly prized across the globe and fetches a higher price than saffron sourced from Spain or Iran.

Kashmiri saffron (also known as Zafran and Kesar) is grown at an elevation of about 1,600 metres above sea level, and it is essential to the region's economy. More than 20,000 households are involved in this business, with the majority of them based in the districts of Pulwama, Srinagar, and Budgam. The precious spice is removed as threads from the stigma and style of the flower.

Saffron is a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae). It is the most costly spice in the world, recognized for its fragrance and colour and is used in pharmaceutical and medical sectors. It is a famous crop of Jammu and Kashmir that is grown on well-drained karewa soils, where the weather conditions are optimal for good growth and yield. Crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal are responsible for the colour, flavour, and scent of saffron. Because of its high crocin concentration and distinctive fragrance, Kashmir saffron is highly prized across the globe and fetches a higher price than saffron sourced from Spain or Iran.

purple flower with black background Kashmiri saffron is grown at an elevation of about 1,600 metres above sea level, and it is essential to the region's economy. | Photo by Benyamin Bohlouli on Unsplash

Pulwama, Budgam, Srinagar, and Kishtwar are the primary growing areas for saffron in J&K, with Pampore being the most prominent growing a peri-urban location, is threatened by commercialization and colonisation; therefore, expanding saffron farming into new and non-traditional areas of J&K would increase the sustainability of the saffron cropping system.

Field Station, Bonera of CSIR-IIIM successfully introduced and grew the crop in August 2020, recognising the crop's significance for both the national market need and the potential for international exports. As per the Mission Atmanirbhar Bharat, the Institute intends to develop the crop commercially in several non-traditional parts of the Valley.

Pure Kashmiri saffron pack Saffron is used in a variety of cuisines across the globe because of its distinctive colour and scent. | Wikimedia Commons

Saffron is used in a variety of cuisines across the globe because of its distinctive colour and scent. It serves as the foundation for several popular meals worldwide, such as Spanish rice, Indian Kesar Ice-Cream, Pakistani Biryani, French stew Bouillabaisse, Traditional Kashmiri Kahwa, and many more dishes.

Although saffron is most often associated with spices today, it has a long history as an ingredient in the production of cosmetics and medicinal products. The ancient Romans were known to soak saffron in their wine, believing that it would reduce hangovers. The spice was also thought to have sedative and antispasmodic properties.

(Keywords: Kashmiri, saffron, zafran, kesar, India, lavish, flower)



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