It is for the first time many national and international companies have forayed into the saffron fields of Kashmir and are directly buying the produce from the farmers. It is reported that some Dubai based companies and India’s own Tata Consumers Limited are picking the saffron baskets from South Kashmir’s saffron town against cash following their marketing intervention and developing the contact with farmers. It is happening for the first time and the market for saffron in Kashmir was otherwise unorganized.
Most of the farmers had often shown displeasure in dealing to brokers or selling it to the consumers while failing to negotiate for the competitive prices. Most of the farmers growing saffron are either illiterate or have little or no exposure to understand the worth of their crop.
They have no exposure to open markets and still believe in the traditional market spaces which are too manipulative and exploitative for underexposed farmers. The intervention of the top-class companies is an unprecedented step which needs to be appreciated and encouraged at every step. Some eight years ago in Jammu, the national companies entered in the Suchetgarh area and picked the basmati rice produce from the farmers directly.
They allowed no intervention of middle men and engaged with the farmers. Offering them awareness, technology and timely payments due to which not only the produce increased, the prices also grew many folds high. Earlier, the farmers had complained of low returns to their crops since all the rice was consumed locally. The rice was sold to the local rice mills which had no open market base. They would pack and sell in the nearby Jammu city area or at the most to some parts in Delhi. MNC’s are picking the produce and selling it in the international market especially in cash rich European and middle east countries.
It has allowed them to pay a decent price to the farmers against their produce. If the story is repeated in the saffron market of Kashmir, it is going to change things for good. The government may succeed in stopping the conversion of saffron land and farmers may show more interest in the cultivation of saffron. The under threat saffron industry may see a fresh ray of hope not for survival only but its growth too.