Kashmiri Kishtwar Saffron Gets GI Tag, Graded Grade 1

Saffron is revered as one of the most – if not the most – expensive spices in the world. The delicate strands, hand-collected from the stigmas of crocus flowers can cost lakhs per kilogram. And among the most expensive, and highest quality saffron, comes from Kashmir. There are a few major growing regions that have won acclaim and recently, Kishtwar Saffron, from the Kishtwar Region of Jammu and Kashmir has been bestowed with the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Geographical Indications Registry

Video Credits: Complete Agriculture/YouTube

A GI tag is a mark of quality, which acts as a mark of intellectual property and solidifies that the product originates from a specific geographical region and bears unique and valuable characteristics due to its place of origin. The origins of Kishtwar saffron can be traced to the scenic Kishtwar region, nestled in the mountainous landscapes of Jammu. Referred to locally as "Kung" and nationally as "Kesar," this spice holds pivotal economic importance in this secluded district. Mandal, the saffron production area, encompasses around 120 hectares of cultivable land, establishing Kishtwar as a significant hub for saffron cultivation.

Kishtwar has gained renown for producing the most valuable saffron harvest, popularly known as Kumkum. This esteemed variety not only signifies the economic significance of saffron cultivation but also carries cultural value as a symbol of freshness and purity. Saffron, referred to by its Sanskrit name 'Kum-Kum' or 'Lohit,' holds a place as a cultural heritage in the region.

Aside from winning the GI tag, Kishtwar saffron was also awarded a Grade 1 quality rating when 1150 grams of saffron flowers harvested from Berwar underwent thorough physical and chemical analysis at the India International Kashmir Saffron Trading Centre (IIKSTC), Dussu Pampore. This process resulted in the extraction of 110 grams of fresh saffron filaments and 20 grams of top-tier dry Lacha saffron, subsequently designated as Grade 1.

The quality of Kishtwar saffron stands out, even when compared to the well-known Pampore saffron from Kashmir. This superiority is attributed to various factors, including the quality of the land, climate conditions, and the meticulous technique of plucking flowers and separating the red and yellow carpels from the petals.

Since manual saffron production is a labour-intensive process, these achievements mark a significant win for the growers and producers of the area and stand as a testament to years of dedicated work. The GI tag and subsequent Grade 1 award are a big step towards improving the economic climate of Kishtwar for the growers and for the reputation of Kashmiri saffron.