For the first time Saffron( Kesar) cultivated successfully in Sikkim. Saffron ( Kesar), a high value herb traditionally cultivated in Kashmir may have found a new home in Sikkim. The plant is member of lilies and grows only in Pampore (Kashmir). Besides, it is known from Spain and Iran. The possibility of its cultivation in Sikkim was explored jointly by North East Centre for Technology Applications and Reach (NECTAR) and Sikkim University when The Vice -Chancellor, Prof Avinash Khare was approached by the Director General, North East Centre for Technology Applications and Reach.
Dr Arun K Sarma was directed for cultivation trial in Sikkim through scientific intervention. Accordingly, Dr Sarma took the initiative and NECTAR approved a pilot project to Swami Satyananda Ashram of Ranchi to carry out the project at Sikkim University’s permanent campus at Yangang.
After green signal from VC Avinash Khare a team of experts from Department of Horticulture ( Dr Niladri Bag, Dr Laxuman Sharma, Dr Rajesh Kumar) and Department of Botany ( Prof Shanti S. Sharma, Dr Dhani R Chettri, Dr Santosh K Rai , Dr Arun Chettri of Sikkim University conducted a trial cultivation of the Saffron at University Campus at Yangang (South Sikkim) starting from the last week of September , 2020. For trial 5 acre of land was used with 100 kg of Saffron bulb.
The day to day monitoring of cultivation field was carried out by experienced farmer from Kashmir Pradeep Singh, who also transported 100 kilo of Saffron bulb for cultivation under the same project. As per the Prof Shanti S Sharma this is apparently a significant development in that, this is the first successful cultivation of Saffron in Sikkim and possibly in Northeast India.
While, as per the monitoring farmer, the the size, colour and quality of plants as well as flowers are remarkably similar to those in Kashmir. This success sufficiently indicates the possibility of cultivation of Saffron in Sikkim. However, further work and detailed scientific evolution of diverse parameters for commercial and societal applications and outreach is required which will be undertaken in the next step.
Report by Prakash, Special Correspondent Sikkim