Kashmiri farmers cultivating Saffrons, the most expensive spice in Kashmir valley

The valley of Kashmir praised for its scenic beauty of nature is also famous for the high-quality saffron, a spice derived from the crocus flower. A decline in demand to the world's most expensive spice has been seen due to several factors over the years and now due to COVID-19. Most of the field looks covered with Purple blanket and people are busy in picking the crocus flower with the first sunrise marking the arrival of winter season. 

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The cultivation stays as a family business as thousands gather to hand pick saffron threads with the break of dawn. It is believed that immigrants from Central Asia have introduced the Saffron cultivation to Kashmir around first century BC, and it has grown exponentially now. The produce from the Kashmir valley is  considered the best in the World with high price value. The erratic rainfall linked to Global warming is a major hindering factor for the crop growth. Over 22 year time, the production has declined by 65%. However, to boost the cultivation and save farmers Indian government has issued the certificate of geographical indication enabling Kashmiri saffron stand out from the cheap Iranian variety which currently captures 90 per cent of the world market.

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One lakh fifty thousand flowers must be picked one by one to produce just one kilogram of saffron. Farmers said, The opening of Saffron park by the government is a help. Rain doesn't fall on time. The government had installed tube wells but irrigation doesn't happen on time. We want the government to do something about this. Kashmir saffron is used widely in health products, cosmetics and forms an integral part of traditional Kashmiri dishes, the spice gives high aroma coloured deep-red is a long, thick stigma. In 226 villages, around 1,20,000 people are employed in this industry boosting rural economy. 

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