The sweeping fields of Pampore of India-occupied Kashmir was once covered with Saffron – thin, lush purple and bedraggled crop of flowers expected to be harvest this year.
In the past two decades, climate change has caused dry conditions leads to making the yield half of the spice that is considered as the most expensive in the world. Furthermore, it is expected that such conditions will threaten the cash crop that has brought prosperity to the country from the past 2,500 years.
Abdul Ahad Mir, the resident of Pampore said, “These fields used to be like goldmines”.
Saffron has long been the reason of earning a good fortune and Mir’s family has perfected the art of plucking tiny crimson threads from purple crocus flowers.
“In my childhood we needed 80 men over a week to pick the flowers,” Mir continued.
He further added, “Today our family of six finish it in a day.”
Rainfall is unpredictable owing to global warming depleting the dry saffron fields of water. Furthermore, the continuous shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers are adversely affecting the yield by reducing the amount of water flowing to the foothills downstream.
The precious spice is produce only one kilogram from 160,000 flowers and sale at the rate of $ 1,350 in the local market.
Coronavirus pandemic has already destroyed the harvest season that arrives during late autumn and lasts for only two weeks. On the other hand, recent security locks in response to the long-running insurgency in the disputed territory has equally contributed to the damage.