Saffron farmers embrace organic cultivation for a golden harvest

Pampore, Dec 29: In a remarkable shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly practices, many saffron growers in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district are spearheading the organic farming movement.

A collective effort by at least 450 farmers hailing from various saffron-rich areas within the Pampore zone has seen them actively seeking organic certification, marking a pivotal moment in Kashmir’s agricultural landscape.

Ishtiyaq Ahmad, Agriculture Extension Officer ( Pampore) told Greater Kashmir that nine saffron clusters were created in the Pampore zone and registered under Paramparagt Krishi Vikas Yojana( PKVY).

“Each cluster comprises 50 farmers,” said the official.

He said the farmers would be monitored for three years before providing them with the organic certifications.

“The farmers will be provided with vermicompost and other assistance. It will be closely monitored if they are adopting purely the organic practices to cultivate the saffron”, said the official.

In 2014, PKV partnered with Participatory Guarantee System (PSG) India allowing registered clusters to get organic certification.

Once the farmers receive the organic certification, they can sell their produce tagging it as ‘organic’ in the domestic market.

“The tag could enhance both the demand and price of the product”, said the official.

A farmer who registered for the certification said that the clusters were created in saffron-rich areas like Kadlibal, Namblabal, Lethpora, Chandhara, Samboora and Putlibagh.

“We are very hopeful that the certification would fetch us enhanced prices,” said the farmer.

Organic farming over the years has assumed more significance with the government rolling out a raft of schemes to promote chemical-free agriculture. India experienced a significant increase in organic cultivation land expanding from 5,28,171 hectares in 20027 to 1.2 million hectares by 2014.

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In  Jammu and Kashmir, large expanses of land were designated for chemical-free agricultural farming by the government.  Under the urban cluster plan, at least 300 hectares were designated for vegetable production while 380 hectares were for horticulture production. Around 500 hectares were designated for the Krishi Vikas Yojna. Additionally,  over 3409 farmers from Jammu and Kashmir were provided with the know-how of organic farming over the last few years.

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