Gangtok: Cultivation of Saffron, which was confined to Kashmir, has found a new home in Sikkim for the very first time.
The possibility of its cultivation in Sikkim was explored jointly by North east Centre for Technology Applications and Reach (NECTAR) and Sikkim University when the vice-chancellor, prof Avinash Khare was approached by the director general of NECTAR.
Saffron production has long been confined to a limited geographical area of Pampore region in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, which is commonly known as Saffron bowl of Kashmir and the main contributor to saffron production.
NECTAR, an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology,, Government of India supported a pilot project to explore the feasibility of growing saffron in Sikkim with the same quality and higher quantity.
The Botany and Horticulture department of Sikkim Central University carried out tests to understand the soil and actual pH conditions of Yangyang of Sikkim and found it comparable to saffron growing places of Kashmir.
Saffron seed/corns were purchased and air transported from Kashmir to Yangyang site by the department. One saffron grower was engaged and stationed to look after the complete growing process, along with the faculty of the university.
The corns were irrigated during the month of September and October, which ensured timely corn sprouting and good flower yields. The matching of climatic and geographical conditions between Pampore and Yangyang led to the successful sample farming of Saffron in Yangyang.