Nature is more and more a victim of global warming but also of war. Within it, saffron is also one of these victims. Indeed, the harvests of this “red gold” are increasingly meager.
Ever leaner harvests
Asked by Science and the Future, Mohammad Ramzan Rather is a farmer working hours in his field of Kashmir crocuses. However, he reports the fact that his crops are getting leaner due to climate change. Before that, his land was extremely rich in saffron. In addition, during the year 2019, his harvests did not exceed half a kilo, whereas twelve years earlier a little less than one hectare of land offered two kilos of saffron. And in 2020, his harvests weigh just thirty grams.
“When I was a child, 80 men were needed for a whole week to harvest the flowers on our 16 kanals (0.8 hectares) of saffron land. These fields were real gold mines”, Also reports Abdul Ahad Mir, farmer, to AFP.
“The irregularity of the rains of the last ten years is causing damage”
“The irregularity of the rains of the last ten years is causing damage. We used to go out into the fields with big wicker baskets, but now the peasants bring ugly little polythene bags for the harvest.“, Explain Jalal-ud-Din Wani, farmer.
According to specialists, climate change is causing the volume of glaciers in the Himalayas to decrease, causing a worrying reduction in downstream water flow. In addition, according to a study dating from July 2020, the temperatures of India, where saffron is mainly cultivated, are likely to increase by about seven degrees by 2100. Faced with such a situation, many saffron growers convert and decide to produce apples which require much less water.
The war also involved
If global warming has a lot to do with it, the war in the region, further claimed by Pakistan, is weakening the saffron crops. Indeed, these two phenomena have halved the production of this “red gold”By increasing it from 2.8 kg per hectare in 1998 to 1.4 kg in 2018, as reported Science and the Future.
In addition, the Indian government implemented in 2020 a certification of origin of saffron in order to fight against counterfeiting. Wishing to reduce the impact of global warming and boost yields, in 2010 he also launched the “National saffron mission”A budget of $ 54 million to modernize agricultural technologies. Thanks to this, 1,480 hectares of saffron crops have been produced.
Nevertheless, farmers dispute these technologies and prefer the old methods more: drying crops in the sun and calling on local businesses. Many people believe that these ancient techniques will once again enrich their saffron crops. “There is still a small chance of recognition”, Concludes Jalal-ud-Din Wani.