India administered Kashmir is known for its high-quality saffron, a spice derived from the crocus flower. Saffron is grown commercially primarily in India, Spain, and Iran. But the Kashmir variety is considered the best and it is the most expensive. First cultivated in Greece, saffron has been grown in the Kashmir valley for hundreds of years.
Saffron fields are a big attraction for tourists as it is well-surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the purple flowers exude the lushest scent.
The small town of Pampore, where thousands of hectares of land are used for saffron cultivation, is just about half an hour’s drive from Kashmir’s summer capital, Srinagar. Pampore is often called Kashmir’s saffron town.
The spice is used extensively in medicines and cooking in Kashmir with some claiming that saffron is an aphrodisiac. It has a high quantity of crocin (coloring strength), safranal (flavor), and picrocrocin (bitterness). Kashmir saffron, a spice that is grown in some regions of Kashmir, including Pulwama, Budgam, Kishtwar, and Srinagar.
The application was filed by the Directorate of Agriculture, Government of Jammu, and facilitated by the Sher-e- Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, and Saffron Research Station, Dussu (Pampore).
“Kashmir saffron is a very precious and costly product. Iran is the largest producer of saffron and India is a close competitor. With the GI tag, Kashmir saffron would gain more prominence in the export market”, said Chinnaraja G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar of Geographical Indications.
Kashmir saffron is globally known as a spice. It has a number of benefits such as it plays a major role in resuscitating health and is used for distinct medical purposes. Most of the time it is associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine which represents the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir.
Saffron locally know as Kesar has been recently registered with Geographical Indication or GI Tag on 3rd May 2020.
GI registration is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. Some of the examples which we can relate to our Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India, Malabar Pepper, Bangalore Blue Grapes, manufactured goods like Pochampalli Ikat, Kancheepuram Silk, Solapur chadars Bagh Prints, Madhubani paintings, etc.
The J&K government applied GI tag to Kashmir Saffron because of its unique identity and superior quality as compared to the saffron grown across the world. Also, with GI tag Kashmir Saffron would gain more prominence in the export market. An interesting fact is that Kashmir Saffron is the only saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1,600 meters – 1,800 meters above sea level.