The dream of SKUAST ( Shere Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology) scientists to grow black cumin (Kala Zeera) in plains of Kashmir with Saffron is starting to take shape as the first crop under demonstration is showing promising growth.
Dr Bashir Ahmad Allie, head of SKUAST’s advance research centre for saffron and seed spices, Dusso Pampore, told that some farmers have been doing intercropping of black cumin and saffron on demonstration basis at 20 different places in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district including Ladhoo, Dusso and Shaar Shali.
“The demonstration crop of black cumin is showing good growth,” he said, adding that a sufficient stock of black cumin tubers is available with them which they can distribute among farmers.
He informed Rising Kashmir that in Jammu and Kashmir black cumin usually grows at hilly places like Gurez and Kishtwar. “There it grows wild,” he said, adding that residents pluck its seeds prematurely which threatened it to extinction.
The scientist said that research was undertaken at SKUAST some years ago to find if it is feasible to grow black cumin in plains of Kashmir.
“Different varieties of black cumin seeds were collected from Gurez, Kishtwar and Afghanistan and were sown here. We were able to prepare a variety of black cumin named as Shalimar Kala Zeera 1 released by SKUAST in 2021,” he said.
“Black cumin is a perennial herb which takes four years to form a tuber from which seeds are obtained. The harvesting of seeds begins around the end of May.
The tubers of black cumin are compatible with saffron corms. They grow alternatively without affecting each other’s growth. The farmer can get more returns from the same land by growing two crops. They can grow black cumin for seeds or bulbs.”
Abdul Majeed, a saffron farmer from Shaar Shali village, said that he grows black cumin for tubers on two kanals of land. He was quite satisfied with the returns. “I earned Rs 4 lakh at the rate of Rs 10 per tuber,” he said.
Abdul Rashid Wani is another saffron farmer from Ladhoo village. He also grows black cumin for tubers.
“This crop has good scope, the returns are quite good, there are very little expenses on pesticide sprays, it does not need too much water,” he said.