Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, April 2, 2010

World Bank Financed Saffron Production Project

Two reports on the interaction between the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) and local saffron growers in the valley

Saffron per Hectare Output Down by 200%: SKUAST

Sajad Kralyari (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Lack of fertilizers, irrigation and use of sub-standard seeds are the prime reasons attributed to dwindling per hectare saffron production in the Valley, which experts say has gone down by 200 per cent.

“We have a capacity to produce 4.50 to 5.50 kg of saffron per hectare against the present production of 1.50 -2 kg per hectare. The farmers can bridge this gap by proper application of fertilizers, choosing right kind of seed and irrigating the land at proper time with proper water quantity,” said VC SK University of Agriculture Science and Technology Kashmir (SKUAST-K) Prof Anwar Alam while speaking at a 2-day training program on Standardization of Integrated Nutrient Management for Saffron organized by Division of Soil Science SKAUST Kashmir.

He said the university has been conducting research for the past one decade and has observed decrease in production during this period.

He said the weight of the seed has to be greater than 10 grams. The use of integrated nutrients involving in-organic, organic and green manures, bio-fertilizers, on-farm crop residues and proper way of irrigating field during reproduction can help in improving production, Alam said.

“There should be precision in irrigation. Saffron is grown on slopes and for that drip and sprinkle irrigation is used. Flood irrigation would harm the crop,” said Alam.

The VC said India has the biggest market for Saffron as it is used in religious rituals. “Even India itself is a big market for saffron. People use saffron for various religious rituals. We have to focus on quality saffron with increased production to meet the demand,” informed VC. “I was asked to supply one ton of saffron for Tirupati Temple in Andhra Pradesh,” he added.

Alam said Iran was the largest exporter of Saffron but “Saffron produced here is of best quality. Due to good climatic conditions, saffron produced here is the best one, which every one would prefer to use. Only we have to increase its production,” said Alam.

He also stressed on branding Kashmiri saffron to counter Irani Saffron for which he said Saffron Mandi should be established.

“Best packaging under a brand name would help. The farmers have to from association to solve these issues and stop people selling fake product. It harms the image of Kashmir saffron,” said Alam.

Director Research A R Trag appreciated farmers for adopting scientific methods for increasing their produce.

“Before 15 years, farmers were reluctant to use fertilizers. Now they have realized the need for research which calls for innovative methods for increasing the produce,” said Trag.

The farmers, however, said they have huge quantity of saffron lying unsold as nobody takes their produce.

“Customers prefer saffron from Iran that is cheap. There has to be proper branding of our saffron, which should be later displayed in fairs. Government should organize fairs in different cities in India so as to make them aware about the Kashmir brand of saffron,” said a farmer.

They said government should set up enforcement squads to check the sale of fake saffron at tourist places.

Adopt Scientific Recommendations for Saffron Production: Prof. Alam

Srinagar: Two days training programme and interaction workshop with saffron growers jointly organized by Division of Soil Science and NAIP Project on “A Value Chain on Kashmir Saffron” started at SKUAST-K Shalimar today. Prof. Anwar Alam, Vice-Chancellor, SKUAST-K was the Chief Guest on the Inaugural function.

Prof. Alam while speaking on the occasion stressed on the farming community for adoption of packages developed by the University on scientific lines and know-how for boasting the production and productivity and said that under the normal conditions a grower harvests between 1½ -2 kg/ha while as the University after a rigorous research harvested yield between 4-4 ½ kg/ha.

For demonstration of this technique, University under World Bank aided Project sanctioned by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to the university with an outlay of Rs. 3 crores on “A value chain on Kashmir saffron” has laid down almost 250 OFTs in different villages of Pulwama to show case the scientific intervention for boasting the production and productivity.
He also suggested the farmers to adopt the post harvest measures like drying, packaging, marketing etc as per the recommendations given by the universityhe advised for drying of the saffron by using the solar dryers developed by the SKUAST-K.

In the age of competitiveness, Vice Chancellor asked the growers to increase saffron productivity using the package developed by the University.

Dr A.R. Trag Director Research, SKUAST-K while speaking on the occasion appreciated the farmers for the shift from traditional practice and tendencies towards the scientific techniques and impressed upon them to adopt integrated nutrient management practices to their fields as per recommendations given by the university.

Some of the farmers also spoke on the occasion and demanded the establishment of Saffron Mandi in the vicinity of the saffron belt at Pampore so as to have easy marketing facilities. (Kashmir Images)

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