Jahangeer Ganaie

Saffron Mission that failed: Saffron yield fails to cheer up growers as no increase recorded

Saffron Mission that failed: Saffron yield fails to cheer up growers as no increase recorded
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Pulwama: The saffron production in Kashmir is persistently decreasing due to the non-availability of irrigation system to the cultivating areas, say growers.
National Saffron Mission, a Rs 400 crore worth project that was started by central government in the year 2010 to tackle the problems faced by cultivators has completely failed as the locals’ claim that the yield is decreasing with each passing year.
Even as the scheme was extended by two years, the farmers said that increase in the yield is still a distant dream.
Data available with Agriculture department show an increase in the yield since 2010 but following the 2014 floods, the yield started decreasing sharply.
According to saffron mission directorate, around 100 borewells were dug out of 128 proposed borewells.
However, the locals refuted the claims, saying that only 8 to 10 were installed among which only few are functional.
“The scheme was not implemented on ground properly, thus the promises by the government proved hoax,” Tariq Ahmed, a resident of KadalbalPampore, who is also a saffron cultivator, said.
“I was cultivating saffron on about 4 Kanals of land on which I used to get about 1 Kg of produce upto 2014 however, last year I got just about 100 grams and this year I am not expecting more than 200 grams yeild,” he added.
The long dry spell in the year 2017 is showing its impact on the crop this year as the corn couldn’t bloom fully and became dry, said another local resident, adding that need of the hour is to get corn irrigated but due to unavailability of water the whole corn will get exhausted.
Locals said that agriculture department and mechanical engineering department are blaming each other for the failure of the scheme.
The locals are demanding the attention of central government and state government to look into the matter as saffron is on verge of ‘extinction’.
Chief Agriculture Officer Pulwama, Mohammad Yousuf Shah said that they are expecting an increase of just 5 % from last year’s production.
He blamed mechanical engineering department for this whole mess as according to him 8 years elapsed, the department has failed to complete the irrigation project even as they got advance payments for setting up the irrigation systems.

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