Srinagar: Unplanned construction and
industrial activities has shrunk the land under saffron
cultivation in Kashmir and resulted in 80 per cent decrease in
the yield of the most important cash crop of the Valley over
the last two decades, according to officials and cultivators.
From 7000 hectares in Pampore tehsil alone in 1990,
the land under saffron cultivation has reduced to 3600
hectares in entire Kashmir. The central government has
recently announced a Rs 376 crore National Saffron Mission to
increase the yield and bring more areas under cultivation.
Despite efforts by the agriculture department to
introduce saffron cultivation in areas with topography similar
to Pampore, which accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the
saffron produced in the state, the crop is virtually facing
threat of extinction.
One of the major reasons for shrinking of acreage
under saffron cultivation is the "mindless and unplanned"
construction of residential houses in the midst of the fields,
Ironically, one such sprawling residential colony
which has come up at Pampore has been named as `Saffron
colony`. Although the state legislature has enacted a law to
prevent such constructions, officials in the agriculture
department claim it is not being implemented on the ground.
"The legislation is there but enactment of these laws
is not in the hands of officers in the Agriculture
department," Nigeen Ahmad Lone, the Chief Agriculture Officer
of north Kashmir`s Pulwama district, said.
Lone said the department officials can only identify
the violations of the Act but have no powers to enforce to
"We can at the most identify and inform. Beyond that
the district administration and the police have to act," he
The decline in land under saffron cultivation has
also been attributed to lack of irrigation facilities in