Saffron Farmers in Kashmir Suffering from Climate Change
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Saffron Farmers in Kashmir Suffering from Climate Change

Srīnagar : India | Jan 01, 2011 at 9:56 AM PST
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Kashmiri Saffron Farmers Face Losses

Saffron farmers in the Kashmir area around Pampore are facing declining crops due to climate change. Over the past few years the winter snow cover has diminished, affecting the crop yield. The Indian government has pledged money to help improve irrigation in the area, but no progress has been seen to date.Ref: RT.com

Some of the farmers blame nearby cement plants for the reduction in their crops of the world's most expensive spice. While cement plants are often responsible for particulate pollution, it has not been established that cement dust is affecting the saffron crop.

Saffron has been used by people in food and as folk cures for thousands of years. It is the dried stigmas and styles(female parts of the flower) of Crocus salivus. A kilo of the dried product fetches about US$4000. That seems like a huge price, but it takes hundreds of thousands of crocus flowers to yield a kilo of saffron. In the West, saffron is best known as an exotic additive to food, but it has many other uses. Folk medicines prescribe it for a variety of ailments and it can also serve as an expensive dye for cloth.

The saffron farmers in Kashmir are facing a changing climate that helps reduce their income. The value of the crop also is working against them as unscrupulous operators adulterate the purity of powdered saffron and other countries find it worthwhile to grow the saffron crocuses. Spain and Iran are currently the biggest producers of this spice, but other countries are growing it as well. During the Middle Ages England was a producer of saffron, leaving the town of Saffron Waldon as witness to the once thriving industry.

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Kashmiri saffron farmers face declining yields due to sparse rainfall.
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