The world famous Kashmiri saffron has been grown in the fields of Pampore area in South Kashmir for the past 2,500 years. But its acreage has been falling of late because of declining yields—a consequence of climate change Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Sacks of the flowers are taken home for further processing Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Farmers say the flowers have to be picked before sunrise because they have such a short life span Photographs by: Imran Nissar
During late autumn, farmers of Pampore, wearing homespun clothes, can be seen picking saffron (Crocus sativus) flowers. At a furious pace and heaping them in wicker baskets. The harvesting season is marked by chatter, ring of laughter and men smoking hubble bubbles beneath trees. But farmers these days are a worried lot. Crop yields have declined by 50 to 60 per cent Photographs by: Imran Nissar
The petals are stripped off to extract the slender threads Photographs by: Imran Nissar
The flowers are picked every four days Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Approximately 5,000 flowers are needed to yield enough threads for just an ounce of saffron Photographs by: Imran Nissar
The red stigmas here represent the purest Kashmiri saffron. It is exported to a number of countries. Saffron is used in a number of dishes, especially in sweets to give them a rich colour, delicate flavour and aroma Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Saffron harvesting is a labour intensive job as flowers have to be handpicked and the slender threads extracted carefully Photographs by: Imran Nissar
The ideal environment for yielding saffron is cool dry climate and soil rich in organic content. Saffron is not grown in any other fertile, alluvial plateau in Kashmir. Residents claim the soil of Pampore has a certain magical quality that helps the flowers bloom and acquire stigmas with a rich aroma Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Saffron Kehwa (Kashmiri tea) is a must at all festivals Photographs by: Imran Nissar
The petals of the saffron flowers are eaten as vegetable. No part of it gets wasted Photographs by: Imran Nissar
Kashmiri saffron flowers have a rich purple hue and their stigmas are deep red, extra long, and have a thicker head Photographs by: Imran Nissar
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