Kochi, Aug 16: Stepping up its efforts to promote marketing and upgrade quality of saffron, the Spices Board has teamed up with the Jammu and Kashmir government to boost produce and improve value addition of the signature Kashmiri spice for its consumption and trading in both domestic and international markets.
The Board and the state government are also going full throttle to secure GI (geographical indication) registration for authentication of high quality saffron from Kashmir.
The issues regarding the saffron trade came up for thorough deliberations at a two-day ‘National Seminar on Saffron’ in Srinagar recently.
Delivering the keynote address, Spices Board Chairman Dr. A Jayathilak said the board and the J&K government are working in tandem for getting the GI registration for saffron. “The Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs has initiated the development of Codex standard for saffron at its 3rd session held in Chennai in February 2017,” he informed.
The saffron trade would get a fillip by addressing the issue of post-harvest management, especially for drying and storage, in order to retain the colour, aroma and flavour of the spice, he said.
“Spices Board has always evinced keen interest in the promotion of saffron in both domestic and international markets, particularly in food, beverage, cosmaceutical, perfumeries and other segments to enhance the consumption through trade delegations, participation in international exhibitions and buyer-seller meets,” Dr Jayathilak noted.
The seminar, organised by S K University of Agricultural Science & Technology (SKUAST) of Kashmir and Agriculture Production Department, Govt. of J&K, was inaugurated by Minister for Agriculture Production Mr Ghulam Nabi Lone.
Mr Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Minister of State for Forest, Ecology and Environment; Shri Sundeep Kumar Nayak, Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production Dept, J&K; Prof Nazeer Ahmed, Vice Chancellor, SKUAST; and Mr Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, Director of Agriculture, J&K, were among those who attended the seminar.
Dr Jayathilak said Spices Board is promoting the setting up of common mini-processing facilities and value addition units to improve the marketability of saffron in the saffron- growing areas by farmer groups. “We have recently supported a producer group in Pampore by providing Rs 15 lakh as grant-in-aid towards 75 per cent of the cost of machinery and equipment for setting up of mini-processing and value addition unit,” he informed.
Observing that aggregation is a major challenge in saffron production and marketing, he said formation of Spices Producers Societies is being encouraged to boost aggregation of the produce, common processing, value addition, and direct marketing of the spice between growers and exporters, processors and institutional buyers.
“Such a measure will help maintain the quality throughout the supply chain and ensure better price realisation for the growers by eliminating the middlemen from the supply chain,” he noted.
Dr Jayathilak assured providing hands-on training to the technical personnel of the state government’s Agriculture Department on the protocols for testing of saffron in Spices Board’s Quality Evaluation Laboratories. He also stressed the need for popularizing the simple tests evolved for checking the adulteration in saffron by consumers.
Sponsored by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, National Horticulture Board, Spices Board and J&K Bank, the seminar focused on production and market promotion of Kashmiri saffron in domestic and international trade.
The Saffron Production and Export Development Agency (SPEDA), set up by the Spices Board with J&K Govt. Chief Secretary and Union Commerce Secretary as Co-chair, along with 17 members representing various stakeholders, has been pro-active in coordinating the programmes and projects for R&D, domestic marketing, quality, consumption, promotion and export of saffron.
India is a leading producer of premium and finest quality saffron in the world and Kashmiri saffron has been a recipient of the Great Taste Award, the world’s most coveted award for artisan and specialty food producers.
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