Significant changes are witnessed in the nature and direction of cropping pattern. A significant shift in cropping pattern of Jammu and Kashmir has taken place towards horticulture based production system during the past few decades. Horticulture occupies a very significant position in the predominantly agricultural economy of India in general and western Himalaya in particular. It contributes tremendously to build up the financial state of Jammu and Kashmir economy. It is the backbone of the economy in Kashmir with 2. 3 million people related with the sector. Around 20 percent area of the state is under horticultural crops. The horticultural sector contributes around 5000 crores to the annual income of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. And the principal horticulture crop which has greater usefulness and market is none other than saffron. It is commercially the most important cash crop. But, the cultivation of saffron in Jammu and Kashmir doesn’t show interest for the growers anymore for a number of reasons like falling production and productivity, the presence of large intermediaries etc. In terms of production, saffron is a very beneficial cash crop possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and wound healing nutritional, functional food, antioxidant, aesthetic, anti-microbial, anti-diabetic characteristics, learning and memory retaining characteristics, anti-Cholesterol and anti-triglycerides characteristics. It is an extremely vital source of nutritive diet, which provides a good scope of market expansion, both in the national and international scene, provided an area, production and marketing are remarkably improved.
The indifference of the saffron growers towards a non- remunerative cash crop like saffron, which is currently facing area, production, and marketing problems, and the desire to diversify towards other crops, particularly orchard crops suitable for Wudars is one of the biggest threat facing this crop. The root cause for such a threat is a continuous low production and productivity levels, high labour costs, inconsistent climatic conditions, a large number of intermediaries who make the saffron market very much exploitative and above all lack of government support to improve production and marketing. No other crop that is suitable for Karewa lands is taken in the saffron lands as an alternative or buddy crop to supplement the grower’s income and improve his standard of living. This describes why a large percentage of the area which earlier was under this crop lies inattentive as fallow land. As a result, there is firm opposition to the provision of the legislation prohibiting any other use of these Karewa lands (Nehvi et al., 2008).
Another threat to saffron market then and now is a deliberate 꽁머니 즉시지 unashamed human action known as adulteration (Qadri, 2017) which has hit the business of saffron very hard. Internationally as well as nationally Kashmiri saffron has lost its charisma because of adulteration, lack of proper regulations, lack of safety and quality control procedures. Saffron from Iran enters through legal and illegal ways, particularly from January which is why from this month prices fall. Official figures for saffron imports reveal that very less quantity of saffron is imported but the actual quantity that reaches the Indian market is very much higher. In order to extract higher prices, Iranian saffron is mixed with Kashmiri saffron and sold in the name of Kashmiri saffron. Adulteration has demoralized the agricultural community in general and honest saffron traders in particular. It thus calls a serious threat of consumer’s confrontation to anything being sold as Kashmiri saffron, which will decay the entire saffron industry. Adulterated saffron is sold to ill-informed travelers, visitors and tourists which destroys the image of the state and create negative externalities to Tourism industry (Hussaini, Kamili, Wani, Silva & Bhat, 2010).
Another threat to the saffron industry is reverse migration. People from Srinagar city are migrating to saffron fields in general and colonies in particular. The traditional saffron growing belt of Pampore is just 15 km south of Srinagar city. Pampore is mounting in all directions to provide accommodations to the rising population mainly due to migration from Srinagar city. Pampore is adjacent to the national highway connecting the Kashmir valley with Jammu and Delhi, which makes it profitable for high profile people and real-estate developers to acquire land in this belt for prospective urbanization. Reverse migration is one of the main cause responsible for area shrinkage in saffron in Pampore.
There is a causal relationship between exports and agriculture gross domestic product (GDP) reflecting the long-run association between the two. The relationship between international trade and economic growth has always caught the attention of economists. The rise in GDP is always desired by economies (Shombe, 2005). Export-led growth has been heavily emphasized and declared important to growth and development plans and approaches in all recent empirical studies on growth and development because it augments growth and development in Total-Factor-Productivity. Furthermore, it increases FDI flows in countries, which in-turn upsurge productivity levels and cut dead weight loss in an economy.
Agriculture export drives value additions in agriculture at the country level. There is a statistically positive relationship between saffron export and value additions in agriculture (Mehdi & Reza, 2012). Different econometric models for different time series and periods like Johansen cointegration techniques, Auto Regressive Distributed Lag Model and other forecasting models allow us to use such relationships as a good tool of analysis and forecasting of the business cycle, estimating the long run relationship between economic variables. Cointegration of multiple economic series suggests that there is a long run or equilibrium relationship between two or more economic series even though each series is considered to be an integrating of the order one, I(1) process (Shin; 1991). These models allow us to estimate the long run relationship between agriculture exports and value additions in agriculture thus, boosting agriculture exports in the long run. Similarly, these econometric models allow us to estimate the long run relationship between saffron export and value additions in agriculture thereby encouraging saffron exports in the long run. It has been found that one percent change in saffron export rate leads to much more than one percent change in agricultural value added growth (Mehdi & Reza, 2012). For that reason, saffron export is considered as a significant aspect of value additions in agriculture and economic growth. Value additions in the agriculture sector is a function of the rate of absorption of the export sector. It means that if the incomes attracted from the export sector can be spent on vital and productive investments in general and agriculture in particular, it will undoubtedly generate value-added growth in the economy. Therefore, the government should promote export-led growth.
Saffron is the most important cash crop of India which is cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the important horticulture crop with greater efficiency and wide market. Jammu and Kashmir government should promote exports of horticulture crops in general and cash crops like saffron in particular because it will increase agricultural GDP to a great extent. If we won’t encourage export-led growth, we will witness declining share of agriculture export in the agricultural sector. Promoting exports through export promotion measures, we will surely enhance the economic viability as well the financial viability of the important sectors in general and agriculture sector in particular.