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January 11 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The saffron fields of Kashmir, renowned for producing the world’s most expensive spice, are facing a critical crisis due to the encroachment of cement factories. Despite being the second-largest global saffron producer after Iran, Kashmir’s saffron industry is in decline, posing economic challenges for local farmers.


Factors Contributing to Decline in Saffron Production:

Proximity to Cement Factories:

  • Cement factories near saffron fields emit dust, leading to a 60% decline in cultivation in the last two decades.
  • Cement dust adversely affects delicate saffron flowers, impacting quality and quantity.

Impact of Cement Dust:

  • Harmful gases in cement dust damage saffron flowers, reducing chlorophyll and inducing early leaf fall.
  • Negative effects on crocin content, affecting color, medicinal properties, and cosmetic benefits.

Environmental Factors:

  • Climate change, unexpected rainfall, land diversion, and machine plowing contribute to reduced saffron production.
  • Saffron cultivation is highly climate dependent.

Lack of Government Intervention:

  • Farmers opposed cement factories since 2005 due to environmental concerns.
  • Authorities permitted industries near saffron cultivation despite protests.

Market Challenges:

  • Saffron farmers face financial difficulties with declining prices, quantity, and quality.
  • The spice’s market becomes less lucrative, raising concerns about the industry’s future.

Key Facts About Kashmiri Saffron:

Saffron Production and Price:

  • Mainly cultivated in the Pampore region, known as the Saffron bowl of Kashmir.
  • Kashmiri kesar is highly valued, selling at Rs 3 lakhs per kilogram.
  • Requires extensive labour, with a gram obtained from approximately 160-180 flowers.

Season and Cultivation Conditions:

  • Corms cultivated in June and July (August and September in some places).
  • Flowering begins in October.
  • Thrives at an altitude of 2000 meters, requiring specific soil, climate, and rainfall conditions.

Crocin Content and Color:

  • Kashmiri kesar contains 8% of crocin, higher than other varieties.
  • Crocin is responsible for the color of saffron.

Benefits of Kashmiri Saffron:

  • Medicinal properties include lowering blood pressure, treating anemia, migraines, and aiding insomnia.
  • Cosmetic benefits enhance skin quality, reduce pigmentation, and minimize spots.
  • Integral part of traditional dishes, used in beverages, confectionery, dairy products, and food coloring.


  • Granted Geographical Indication (GI) certification in 2020.
  • Recognized as one of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage systems (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Initiatives to Promote Saffron Production:

National Saffron Mission (NSM):

  • Launched in 2010-11 under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to support saffron cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Northeast Centre For Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR):

  • Conducted a pilot project to explore saffron cultivation feasibility in the North East with the same quality and higher quantity.

Way Forward:

  • Implement strict environmental regulations for cement factories near saffron fields.
  • Monitor and penalize industries contributing to pollution.
  • Facilitate collaboration between government and saffron growers.
  • Support diversification of saffron farmers’ livelihoods.
  • Allocate funds for research in resilient saffron varieties.
  • Invest in technology minimizing pollutants’ impact on saffron crops for sustainable growth.


The decline in Kashmir’s saffron production demands urgent attention and action. Strict environmental regulations, collaborative efforts, and support for alternative livelihoods are essential to safeguard the unique and economically significant saffron industry in the region. Sustainable practices and technological interventions can mitigate the adverse impacts, ensuring the continued excellence of Kashmiri saffron.


January 11
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: