Balochistan’s cold areas suitable for Saffron crop cultivation

ISLAMABAD: Saffron being a climate resilient and low water consuming crop could be grown in the cold areas of Balochistan without conventional irrigation system.
The environment of cold regions of Balochistan including Quetta, Zhob, Killa Saifullah, Pishin, Mastung, Khuzdar and Kalat districts was the best for saffron’s cultivation and higher production.
Balochistan agriculture minister Asadullah Baloch said the department is encouraging farmers to cultivate saffron in the colder areas of the province, especially Quetta division, to yield its optimum production.
The objective of the initiative was to divert local farmers’ attention from growing traditional wheat crop and focus on cultivating high value crops, he said on Thursday.
It was a pilot project of agriculture department and the farming was being carried out at designated sites of the centre showing positive results with respect to germination, seed multiplication and community response, he added.
“Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice which is derived from stigmas of saffron crocus. It is used in cuisines of different countries besides many other purposes.”
While highlighting the farmers’ concerns, he said they were worried about the high cost of production, labour and cost intensive bulbs (saffron plants) and low production as each acre sowing required at least 70,000 corms, which required a lot of investment. Baloch said the department was carrying out research and working with farmers to improve cultivation techniques. “Saffron is harvested from full-blooming variety of the crocus flower, a hardy perennial that grows from bulbs and can withstand Balochistan’s harsh climate,” he said.
The price of product very much depended on the quality of the produce, which could fetch as much as $ 800 per kg. TF REPORT

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