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With the awarding of the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Union government’s Registrar of Geographical Indication, saffron (‘kesar’) grown in Kashmir, gets its due on the global map. Considered to be one of the costliest spices by weight, this much sought after spice has long been used as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. It is also known for its medicinal properties. The strands are actually the dried stigma and styles of the flower of the Crocus sativus plant.
According to the National Mission on Saffron (NMS), the history of saffron grown in Kashmir probably goes beyond 500BC. Some historians attribute its origin to a Persian invasion. However, owing to various reasons, the production of saffron began to dwindle which led to the creation of the NMS in 2010-11.
Pampore, in the Pulwama district of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is known as the hub of saffron cultivation. It is also grown in Budgaum, Kishtwar and Srinagar.
Media reports quoting government officials say that it is the high altitude (about 1,600 metres) which differentiates Kashmir saffron from the other varieties grown around the world. The saffron from Kashmir has longer and thicker stigma, a deep red colour, and a strong aroma.
According to official reports, the GI tag will not only stop the adulteration of the spice but also improve its value in the export market. The authentic spice is expected to fetch better price in the international market and benefit the growers in the long run.
The UT’s Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu called the awarding of the GI tag as a historic step in the history of cultivation of the spice in Kashmir.
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