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Union Agriculture Minister lays Foundation Stone for Saffron Park Project at Pampore, Pulwama

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Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister laid the foundation stone for the Saffron Park Project at Pampore Pulwama in J&K. -

The saffron park is being developed by National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of under National Saffron Mission at a cost of Rs 24.54 crores. While laying the foundation stone, Shri Radha mentioned that horticulture is one of the most vibrant sectors for the economy of J&K so, the state has come out with various missions with the support of Ministry of Agriculture, Government of to improve production, post harvest infrastructure and marketing and promote export of major commercial fruit crops. He mentioned that programmes like Horticulture Mission for NE and Himalayan States, vegetable initiatives for Urban Cluster, National Saffron Mission have given a big boost for bringing horticulture development in the state of J&K at a fast track.

The Minister expressed concern over the reports that area under Saffron cultivation in Kashmir is declining from about 5707 hectares in 1996 to just 3875 hectares in 2010-11bringing down the production from 3.13 kg/hectares to 2.47 kg/hectares in the last few years. He mentioned that a large number of Saffron fields have become senile on account of low plant population and it is said that the major biotic stress faced by Saffron for several years is 'Corm Rot Fungal Infection'. He assured that in order to overcome such problems, the project for Economic Revival of J&K Saffron Sector has been implemented in a Mission mode.

This project has many components to ensure that interventions are timely and have identifiable performance. The components of the Mission include Rejuvenation/replanting of existing Saffron area for improving productivity, improving soil health by INM, IPM and IDM practices, Standardization of quality corm production in public nurseries, strengthening the irrigation system, enhancing productivity through improved post- harvest handling, mechanization, enhancement of research and extension capabilities etc.

He pointed out that the farmers in Kashmir are using traditional methods of processing i.e. after plucking of flowers, the stigmas are separated by family labour and sun dried.

This results in sharp degeneration in quality, leading to non-standard products. He said that to compete in international market, this industry requires best of art infrastructure facilities so, the National Horticulture Board has been assigned the task of setting up a world class infrastructure facility for Saffron Park intended for processing and value addition of Saffron. The Park will have common facility infrastructure for sorting, grading, packing, qualify control lab, e-auction centre, garbage/waste utilization among other latest facilities. It is also proposed to create branding of Kashmir Saffron. The quality control laboratory will issue qualify certificate of various grades, for which a certification authority will be designated by the State Government. This would significantly discourage adulteration and sale of low grade Saffron being sold in the name of Kashmir Saffron. The minister said that the Board will develop the common infrastructure facilities like Roads, Water Supply System, Power stations, Firefighting & Control Systems, Bank Counters, Restaurant, Business Centres etc. within the Park.

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First Published: Mon, August 25 2014. 15:59 IST