Pulwama: Civil Society members have expressed concern over turning a huge chunk of Karewa land around Pampore area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district into oil seed cultivation.
The civil society members informed Rising Kashmir that a big swath of Karewa land, which otherwise was famous for growing saffron, has been brought under mustard cultivation in Pampore, Konibal, Dusoo, Andrussa, Munpora, Lalpora, Ladhoo , Wuyan and Shaarshali.
Irshad Ahmad Dar, member of the Kisan advisory board and a farming activist said that converting the saffron land for mustard crop is a serious issue which needs immediate attention from government and citizens.
He added that Saffron is a heritage crop of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We need to conserve our heritage crop which is our national pride,” he said, adding that he along with other like-minded civil society members has started a campaign to turn farmers back to saffron cultivation.”
Bilal Ahmad, a farmer from Pampore, informed Rising Kashmir that he has brought around 3 kanals of Karewa land under oil seed cultivation. He said that the driving force for this conversion was depletion of saffron corms.
“The returns on saffron cultivation fell drastically due to corm depletion,” he said, adding that he was unable to recover expenses and ultimately he was compelled to switch over to mustard crop.
He added that for him growing oil seed is comparatively more productive.
“I reap a profit of around rupees 16000 from the patch of land,” he said.
Jalal U Din, another farmer from Konibal, said that he has brought 3 kanals of saffron land under mustard cultivation. He said that climate change, porcupine attacks and use of unskilled labour caused a significant decrease in saffron production.
“The returns were low,” he said. He added that falling returns on growing saffron compelled farmers to turn to mustard and other horticulture crops.
Chief Agriculture Officer Pulwama, Mohammad Iqbal Khan, said that most farmers grow mustard on the Karewa land as rotational crop after digging out saffron corms.
“After growing saffron for continuous three to four years farmers rotate it another crop for a year,” he said, adding that they are also working to develop saffron corm nursery under holistic development of agriculture programme.
“The corms will be provided to the farmers,” he said.