Kashmir saffron is renowned globally as a spice that rejuvenates health and is used in medicinal purposes, cosmetics and is a part of religious rituals all across the country. It has also been associated with traditional Kashmiri cuisine and represents the rich cultural heritage of the region.
In July 2020, the saffron produced in Kashmir was given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry. The highly coveted GI tag was given to Kashmiri saffron in order to put the Valley’s brand on the global map.
It is fortunate that the Kashmiri farmers can brand their saffron as the produce of the Valley. This is because some farmers of Maharashtra are successfully cultivating saffron in hi-tech container farms and are aiming to compete with the saffron grown in Kashmir.
Pune Farm Announces Successful Saffron Cultivation
On November 13, 365D Farms at Pune announced that they have grown Kashmiri saffron inside a shipping container. According to the information shared by the hi-tech farm on various social media groups, the saffron was grown with the help of premium quality crocus corms/bulbs procured from Pampore in Kashmir.
The promoters of the farm said that they used the aeroponics method to grow the beautiful saffron flowers. According to the farmers growing saffron at some parts of Maharashtra, their produce is as good as the produce grown in the valley. They claim that the saffron produced by them can prevent heart diseases, help to cure depression, hypertension, lead to weight loss, fight cancer, and help people deal with asthma, insomnia, and also help in achieving a glowing complexion.
What Is Aeroponics Farming?
Aeroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Instead, roots are suspended in the air and irrigated with a nutrient-dense mist.
This differs from hydroponic systems where plant roots are regularly submerged in a nutrient-rich solution.
In aeroponics, the roots have greater access to oxygen, which results in healthier plants, significantly faster crop growth rates and increased yields.
The saffron farmers at 365D Farms at Warje in Pune also stated that they have grown saffron at their container farm without the use of soil.
In 2020, Saffron Was Grown At Mahabaleshwar
This is not the first time that saffron has bloomed in Maharashtra or in some other areas. In 2020, some farmers in Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Maharashtra, had successfully grown Himalayan saffron for the first time. The farmers had said that they had achieved success in saffron cultivation because the hill station has low temperature and suitable soil. It is at 4,500 ft above mean sea level location.
Saffron Grown In Lab In Germany City in 2021
The AVF Lab in Munich, Germany, has undertaken the cultivation of saffron since early 2021. AVF has developed an Indoor Learning Lab and Demo Centre to help farmers get acquainted with the vertical farming industry, and all that can be grown in vertical farms.
AVF Lab has been successful in growing the world’s most expensive spice in a vertical farm. According to the scientists at AVF Lab, saffron grows extremely well with this technology!
According to AVF scientists, it is technically possible to grow lots of different types of crops in a vertical farm. The major question is whether the pursuit of this technology is profitable and easy, as compared to the field practices.
The AVF scientists were able to grow the world’s most expensive spice in their vertical farm. According to AVF Lab, saffron grows extremely well in an indoor, vertical system and has the potential to inspire great business models!
The Saffron Plant
Crocus sativa, commonly known as the saffron crocus, is famous for producing saffron spice from the vivid filaments inside the plant called ‘threads’. It is used for flavouring, fragrance, dyes and medicines. Saffron has been the world’s most expensive spice by weight for a long time. This is because such a small part of the flower is used and it must be separated from the rest of the plant manually. It is more expensive than gold, and has been traded and used for thousands of years.
The project at AVF Lab to grow saffron is led by experienced agricultural consultant and saffron specialist Dr Ardalan Ghilavizadeh. According to Dr Ardalan, “The quality of saffron grown indoors is better than outdoor cultivation because we can control the conditions…also disorder and diseases hardly occur on indoor grown crops and when they do occur, we can control them more easily than outdoors.”
Saffron Cultivation Inside Lab
From purchasing to flowering, indoor-grown saffron takes just 3-4 months to produce. Interestingly, the bulbs are only irrigated twice in the whole growing cycle! They benefit from warm and humid conditions but need very, very small amounts of water. According to the AVF scientists, the density of the crop can also be optimised indoors for better yields.
According to AVF Lab, the density in indoor conditions can be optimised. “In our hall of 60 m we can grow 4 t of saffron bulbs. Then every 70 kg of wet flowers gives 1 kg of dried saffron, so you could say that each ton of saffron bulbs results in 2 kg of dried material. In the end it means that we can grow the same amount in 100 m2 indoors as we grown on 1 Ha of outdoor cultivation,” said the AVF website.