National Saffron Mission (NSM) 2020 | UPSC

National Saffron Mission (NSM) 2020 | UPSC


Saffron bowl of India extends to the North East

      WHY IN NEWS:

NECTAR undertakes a pilot project to explore feasibility of growing saffron in North East region

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Science & Technology
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Scheme : Agriculture


For PRELIMS well this is an old scheme in a revival mode . You should focus on location , objectives , importance of saffron , production practises etc.

For MAINS take a note of hurdles , policy measures and outcomes . Let us dive in !


Similarity of climatic and geographical conditions between Pampore (Kashmir) and Yangyang (Sikkim) leads to successful sample farming of Saffron in Yangyang


  • Crocus Sativus (saffron) is a legendary spice of Kashmir.

National Saffron Mission (NSM)

  • Over 30,000 farm operating families are dependent on Saffron cultivation.

Initiative for economic revival of J&K Saffron under National Mission on Saffron (RKVY) was introduced during 2010-11.

  • An area of 3715 hectares of saffron was proposed to be rejuvenated under the mission.


Saffron Cultivation in Kashmir Valley dates back to 500 BC Wan Zhen a Chinese Medical Expert reports that habitat of saffron is in Kashmir.

  • However historians date its arrival prior to 500B.C attributing it to Persian invasion and colonisation of Kashmir.


  • Jammu and Kashmir State had been under threat of extinction as is evident from its dwindling share in global production.
  • Area under Saffron Production has declined from about 5707 hectares to 3715 hectares from in 2009-10 .

Simultaneously productivity had declined from a average of 3.13 Kg/ha to 1.88 kgs/ha over the years.

  • Saffron cultivation is being persuade by more than 30000 families in J&K located in 226 villages.
  • Jammu & Kashmir is the 2nd largest Saffron producing area in the world and is only state in the country where saffron is being cultivated.


  • The production system previously followed in Jammu and Kashmir State was the main constraint responsible for the lower productivity of Saffron.

In lran and Spain, farmers use the Pluriannual method of cultivation.

  • Under which Saffron plants are left in the soil for two consecutive years, after which corms are removed from the field for fresh plantation‘ .
  • Graded corms weighing above 8 gm are preferred for new plantations.

Corms are irrigated during the months of September and October using sprinkler technology which ensures timely corm sprouting and good flower yields.

  • Saffron is dried using toasters/electrical dryers/vacuum dryers, which enhances the quality of Saffron.


  • Low productivity of saffron (1.88 Kg/ha)
  • Orthodox cultivation methods

Biotic and abiotic stresses

  • Poor plant stand
  • Change in weather pattern over the years
  • lssues of adulteration and admixture


  • Rejuvenation/replanting of existing Saffron area for improving productivity.
  • lmproving soil health.
  • Standardization of quality corm production in public nurseries
  • Strengthening the irrigation system.
  • Mechanization.
  • Establishment of weather stations

To make vertical and horizontal improvement in the overall production of saffron

  • Infrastructure development
  • Transfer of technologies
  • Quality testing and marketing
  • Enhancement of research and extension capabilities
  • Delineation of package of practices for Saffron
  • Dissemination of weather forecasts, market alerts, etc. through SMS
  • Market intervention through e-trading and establishment of Electronic Auction
  • Grading, packaging and branding.

National Saffron Mission (NSM) 2020


  • Rejuvenation/Replanting of existing saffron area for improving productivity (75% GOI SHARE)
  • Support for creation of irrigation facilities. GOI SHARE 100% (Tube wells & their harnessing),
  • Production of planting Material (Public Sector Nurseries) 100% GOI SHARE
  • Enhancing product quality through improved post harvest handling 50% GOI SHARE
  • Mechanization 50% GOI SHARE

Infrastructure development of public farms .GOI SHARE 100% .

  • 16 public farms .GOI SHARE 100%
  • Weather Station/etrading/spot exchange/Quality testing/and ISO certification 100% GOI SHARE
  • Transfer of technologies and Human Resource Development (HRD)100% GOI SHARE


  • Orthodox mind set of saffron growers have been swayed successfully and the saffron growers resorted to adopt scientific methodology .

Soil health reclamation measures are being taken as bold initiatives initiatives which is game changer changer in Saffron cultivation.

  • 10.88 T/ha organic manure is being applied to soil for promoting saffron crop production programme.
  • Saffron growers recorded net increase in productivity from 1.800 Kgs/ha to 5.00 Kgs/ha in rejuvenated Saffron area under National Mission on Saffron.


Scientific post-harvest handling practices like Drying, Grading, Stamen Separation etc. is taken care in Saffron Parks.

  • To enforce adoption of quality standards and fix the price based on Quality grades at farm gate level.
  • To end the menace of spurious saffron and adulteration
  • To carry out regular evaluation and certification of saffron
  • To provide a common facilitation center for E- trading of Kashmir saffron.


  • Weighing balance to weigh farmers produce.
  • Main conveyor belt for carriage of produce from collection unit to stigma separation and cold storage unit.

NSM Equipments

  • In case there is an excess of fresh saffron flowers it can be stored in cold room within plastic crates, each crate having a capacity of appx. 4 kg of fresh saffron flowers.

Temperature to be maintained 0 to 5 degree centigrade. 

  • Relative humidity to be maintained 90-95 %.


  • The saffron bowl, which was so far confined to Kashmir, may soon expand to the North East of India.
  • Plants from seeds transported from Kashmir to Sikkim and acclimatized there are now flowering in Yangyang in the Southern part of the North-East state.
  • Saffron production has long been restricted to a limited geographical area in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

Pampore region, in India, commonly known as Saffron bowl of Kashmir.

  • It is the main contributor to saffron production, followed by Budgam, Srinagar, and Kishtiwar districts.
  • Saffron has traditionally been associated with the famous Kashmiri cuisine.

It’s its medicinal values were considered as part of the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir. 

  • As saffron growing was confined to very specific areas in Kashmir, its production remained limited.
  • Though the National Mission on Saffron focused on several measures to improve its farming, the measures were still limited to the specified areas of Kashmir.


  • North East Centre For Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology.

It has supported a pilot project to explore the feasibility of growing saffron in North East region of India, with the same quality and higher quantity. 

  • The Botany and Horticulture department of Sikkim Central University carried out tests to understand the soil and actual pH conditions of Yangyang of Sikkim.
  • They found it comparable to saffron growing places of Kashmir.
  • Saffron seed/corms were purchased and air transported from Kashmir to Yangyang site by the department.

The corms were irrigated during the month of September and October, which ensured timely corm sprouting and good flower yields. 

  • The project also focused on post-harvest management and value addition of saffron.
  • Quality saffron drying and efficient post-harvest processing can improve saffron recovery, thereby improving its production.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The matching of climatic and geographical conditions between Pampore (Kashmir) and Yangyang (Sikkim) led to the successful sample farming of Saffron in Yangyang.


Well organized marketing system will reduce cost of intermediation, improve marketing efficiency, enhance farmers price realisation and  promote grading.

  • Also this will make better quality certified Saffron available to the consumers.
     SOURCES:  PIB | National Saffron Mission 2020 | UPSC



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