An experiment to grow saffron is underway in Sikkim.
- In India, the cultivation of saffron one of the most expensive spice is limited to a few areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Now, the Ministry of Science and Technology with the help of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)is looking to extend its cultivation to some northeast states.
- In the Yangyang village of South Sikkim, a pilot project has been done and the results were successful.
- In September, the DST had produced the first crop of saffron across 1,000 square metres.
- After the quality is assessed, the crop will be scaled up ten times in Sikkim itself.
- The saffron cultivation has been limited to Pampore, Budgam, Srinagar and Kishtwar districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Annually, India cultivates 6 to 7 tonnes of saffron.
- A kilo saffron costs Rs1.5 to Rs 2 Lakhs.
- The idea of cultivating the saffron in other areas was given by the NECTAR scientists.
- In Sikkim, this project collaborates with the Botany and Horticulture department of Sikkim Central University.
- Scientists tested the soil pH in Yangyang and compared with the soil where saffron is grown, especially Pampore area.
- A Pampore based farmer was appointed to grow the saffron.
- Seeds were collected from Pampore and scheduled like those undertaking in Kashmir which is followed in September and October.
- At sub-zero temperatures, saffron needs to be underground for about 45 days.
- Once when sown, in August it requires adequate rain.
- The department, transported the saffron seeds by air from Kashmir to Yangyang.
- During September and October, the seeds were irrigated with timely sprouting and good flower yields.
- Scientists are looking to extend the cultivation of saffron to Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.