Rajouri |:Influenced by the cultivation of saffron in the Kishtwar area of Jammu and Kashmir, the District Administration Rajouri picked up an idea of Saffron cultivation in the district.
The District Administration desired the project to be taken up on an experimental basis by the Agriculture Department in Darhal Sub Division as the terrain and climatic conditions of that area are almost akin to that of Kishtwar.
The Department selected one farmer Vishal Chander Sharma of PanchayatKotDhara, Block Dhangri, Zone Fatehpur. The farmer possesses only 15 kanal un-irrigated land in which he has been growing Wheat and Maize crops.
He agreed to cultivate saffron in 15 marlas for which the saffron seed (ora) was purchased by the Agriculture Department from Pampore Kashmir and supplied to him. In addition to the seed, some other assistance like fertilizer, labour charges, weedicides etc was also provided to him.
The technical issue in saffron cultivation is the preparation of bed which was a great challenge for the farmer as he was to grow saffron for the first time but he was able to accomplish it.
With no prior experience in growing saffron, the help of the experts from Kishtwar was sought who assisted the farmer in the cultivation of the saffron.
Sowing of the seed was done on August 24, 2021 but after 3-4 days of sowing, there were heavy rains for 28 days affecting its germination and delayed sprouting. Cultural operations were done during the entire process.
Blooming started on Dec 12, 2021 and flowers bloomed the same day. The blooming process continued for 15 days resulting in 734 flowers in total and on average 45-50 flowers per day. Plucking of the flowers was done on the same day of blooming.
Stigmas were separated from the flowers on the second day of plucking. The sweet and pleasant fragrance of the flowers was a matter of great pleasure and encouragement for Vishal.
The field was looking beautiful, particularly in the morning, and presented a magnificent view to the passerby. The farmers of the adjoining area are also fascinated and expressed their desire to cultivate saffron in the forthcoming season.
Now the challenge for the Agriculture Department and the farmer is protection, preservation and multiplication of the seed for future cultivation.
Vishal Chander, farmer is highly thankful to the District Administration Rajouri and Department of Agriculture for motivating him to cultivate saffron in this area.
Vishal was previously dependent on subsistence agriculture and was cultivating wheat and maize but now he is keen to cultivate saffron crop in his fields to earn more income to improve his socio-economic status.
Saffron cultivation has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in J&K, mainly Pampore, followed by Budgam, Srinagar and Kishtwar districts but after the successful conduct of saffron cultivation trial, the District Administration and the Department of Agriculture are also looking at extending the cultivation of saffron to other areas where it feels will favour its cultivation to increase farmers income.
District Administration Rajouri under the leadership of DC Rajouri, VikasKundal is making persistent efforts to ameliorate the socio-economic condition of the farmers by motivating them to go for commercial agriculture from subsidence agriculture and concrete measures are being taken in this regard.
Saffron cultivation trial is just one more move in this direction and much more to come in near future for the welfare of the farmer’s community.