The Saffron Production and Export Development Agency (SPEDA), to be headquartered at Srinagar, will be set up by the Spices Board in consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir government "as expeditiously as possible," an official statement said on Monday.
    
The production, rejuvenation of saffron along with the processing, training of farmers, research, quality control and export promotion of saffron will be handled by the specialised agency.
    
"The project will benefit all saffron farmers of Jammu and Kashmir by assuring higher production and realisation for the unique product of Kashmir," it said.
    
In August in Leh, Modi has talked about a 'kesar' (saffron) revolution in Jammu and Kashmir.
    
Kashmiri saffron is famous for its fine quality and is the most expensive and precious spice in the world. Pampore township of Pulwama district is the largest producer of
saffron in the country with 80 per cent of area under the cultivation of the crop and is referred to as 'Golden Bowl' of Kashmir.
    
The saffron filaments or threads are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower. Each flower contains three stigmas. It takes over 75,000 of these flowers to make a pound of saffron.
    
The setting up of the specialised agency assumes significance as there has been a drop in saffron cultivation area as well as in production yields. The production had
fallen from about 3 kg per hectare to about 2.5 kg per hectare over the last three years.
    
In 2010, the central government has also launched the National Saffron Mission.
    
Saffron is in great demand for its medicinal, cosmetic and aromatic properties. The blossoms appear during late autumn (mid-October to early November).

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