What is Permaculture Saffron Project?

Permaculture Saffron Project is an ambitious social & environmental project, set up to support the Kashmiri Saffron farmers to preserve the heritage crop of Kashmir and their way of life. This project came in response to seeing Saffron cultivation in Kashmir being under threat of extinction.

 

A joint project of Green Kashmir Permaculture Trust and Earth Kind CIC. 

A short overview of Earth Kind. 

Earth Kind is a Community Interest Company, based in England UK, dedicated to enabling Permaculture learning using a multidisciplinary holistic “whole system” approach for mitigating the climate, nature, and health crises by bringing diverse and nature-based & community focused solutions to deliver the change. To find out more about Earth Kind please visit us at www.earthkind.org

 

Saffron Project Story continues..   

 

Saffron Project Is founded on our passion for Permaculture and its core three ethics for Earth care, People care and Fair share.

We are a small group of Permaculture practitioners, growers and teachers who came together during the International Permaculture Convergence in Epping Forest UK in 2015. We are involved in permaculture both in the UK and in Kashmir. Permaculture has become our lens through which we look at life, live and laugh, learn, and share.

The main aim of the group has been making Permaculture education and training accessible to the grass root farmers and communities in Kashmir, for building their capacity and to promote soil regeneration, biodiversity, and resilience-based farming and food growing.

In 2016 we set up the Green Kashmir Permaculture Trust and our work has been heavily focused on education, and enabling of key stakeholders in Kashmir. 

GKPT has been delivering Permaculture training and education courses in collaboration with the Agriculture University of Kashmir and the Department of Agriculture of Kashmir.

In 2018 we also introduced Permaculture in some of the schools in 4 key Districts of Kashmir. 

From early 2019 our focus has been on Saffron farmers in Kashmir, to find nature-based solutions to revive the Saffron crop, a heritage crop of Kashmir which has been declining in recent years and has failed farmers in Kashmir completely in 2017-2018 because of a severe drought caused by climate change and partly also adulterated fake Saffron sold in the market which is having a devastating effect on Saffron farmers in Kashmir.

 

Demand for the Saffron threads is so high, many Saffron traders adulterate or produce fake Saffron.

Threads that look real at a first glance, can actually be made of corn silks or coconut fibers.

Synthetic colouring is also used to dye the lower grade stigmas and sell them as high grade Saffron.

The Industry has attempted to crack down on those fake and miss labelled products, but the problem still persists, and the market for fake Saffron is closing many real Saffron farmers down.

The other key factor which has contributed to the misery of Saffron farmers is  the main marketing channels are in the hands of brokers, with a long chain of intermediaries and trading companies. Since the broker is the mainstay of the marketing channels, there is rampant exploitation of farmers.

 

Because of the poor financial status, the farmers are prompted to sell their produce cheaply through middlemen and to the owners of the trading firms. Between the grower and the ultimate consumer there exists a long chain of the intermediaries.

There is a looming threat for Saffron. ‘Climate Change’

In Kashmir, production has dropped significantly, and many farmers are selling their land to the commercial builders who build houses and shopping complexes and some farmers have switched to other crops like growing apples. 

In the last 24 years, the cultivable land dedicated to saffron has declined by 65% in Kashmir, as per agriculture department records.

Between 2017 and 2018 Saffron Production in Kashmir almost fell 70% from 16.5 metric tones to 5.2 and with continuing droughts and climate change this harvest could become even more rare. 

 

You can also read the report on this presented by the environmental journalist, one of our Green Kashmir Trustees 

https://www.greenkashmir.org/single-post/2020/06/16/Saffron-crop-fails-in-Kashmir-due-to-drought 

Saffron cultivation in Kashmir has been under threat of extinction due to multiple factors, therefore a multidisciplinary holistic “whole system” approach is needed. 

Green Kashmir and Earth Kind has taken on an ambitious Saffron project to introducing the concepts of Permaculture amongst Saffron farmers to mitigate the threats of climate change using Permaculture and Agroecological systems for potential paths  for recovery, regeneration, resilience and healing of the land, people and their communities. 

So, what does Permaculture say and do about Climate change?

The permaculture movement offers vital perspectives and tools to address catastrophic climate change.

Human-caused climate change is a crisis of systems—ecosystems and social systems–and must be addressed systemically. No single new technology or blanket solution will solve the problem. Permaculture employs systems thinking, looking at patterns, relationships and flows, linking solutions together into synergistic strategies that work with nature and fit local conditions, terrain, and cultures.

Efforts to address the climate crisis must be rooted in social, economic, and ecological justice. The barriers to solutions are political and social, not technical, and the impacts of climate change fall most heavily on frontline communities, who have done the least to cause it. 

Permaculture ethics direct us to create abundance and share it fairly, in order to benefit the whole. Healthy, just, truly democratic communities are a potent antidote to climate change.

Both the use of fossil fuels and the mismanagement of land and resources are driving the climate crisis.

Soil is the key to sequestering excess carbon. By restoring the world’s degraded soils, we can store carbon as soil fertility,

heal degraded land, improve water cycles and quality, and produce healthy food and true abundance. Protection, restoration and regeneration of ecosystems and communities are the keys to both mitigation and adaptation.

Regenerative farming with a strong focus on its role in mitigating climate change.

Starting the conversation for regeneration and resilience-based farming amongst farming community in Kashmir is needed to best support the farming community to cope in such unprecedented times of uncertainty. Enhancing the resilience needed to manage and overcome uncertainty.

Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.

Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.

At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming communities.    

 

The system draws from decades of scientific and applied research by the global communities of organic farming, agroecology, Holistic Management, and agroforestry.

Regenerative approaches include agroecology, organics, Permaculture, agroforestry, no-till and biodynamics.

January 2020

Our latest work in Kashmir has been focused around these principles and approaches. 

We started training Agriculture extension officers in Permaculture and Agroecology. 

The aim of this new project was to deliver training in

Permaculture and Agroecology across the 10 districts of

Kashmir in collaboration with the Directorate of Agriculture Kashmir.

The training also linked Climate Change Adaptations with Permaculture Solutions, targeted at the sensitive ecosystem in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), in this case the geographical region of Kashmir.

The focus of this training was to encourage extension officers to implement these adaptations at a grass roots level, with their regional farmers and small holders.

The Extension Officers deal directly with farmers, small holders, and growers in their respective districts. Therefore, the extension officers from the department of Agriculture are the key link, or bridge, to access the farmers directly and cascade the new techniques to the farmers. 

 

The 4 key elements were selected for delivering the latest training to the extension officers. 

1. Co-creation and sharing of knowledge

✓ 2. Efficiency

✓ 3. Resilience

✓ 4. Human and Social Values

Our aim is not only to support the Saffron farmers to survive and preserve the Saffron growing in Kashmir but to involve them to be part of the bigger picture of global effort to address catastrophic climate change, by restoring the soils, heal degraded land, improve water cycles and produce healthy crop and true abundance. Crops growing in healthy soils give higher yields and higher profits for farmers and assist them to increase their agricultural resilience and productivity and be part of regeneration and resilience-based farming and food growing.

As the world is battling the deadliest pandemic Covid-19 the need to stay fit and healthy has become even more important, and when it comes to our health and wellbeing, we really need to know what’s in our food, how is it grown, where it’s come from and how the farmers live.  

We want to pioneer the movement of Organic Saffron use as an enhancement to a health and well-being focused lifestyle. We want to educate people on the astonishing benefits of organic Saffron for both medicinal and nutritional use and start the conversation to bring the organic, finest, and rare quality of Saffron from Kashmir into our kitchens and into our everyday use.

 

Since ages, this miraculous spice has been used for its amazing properties, which can prevent as well as cure several health issues. Apart from that, Saffron has been a great spice to boost immunity and keep seasonal ailments at bay.

Hence, adding immunity boosting foods to the daily diet can help in improving health.

 

 

So why is it so important that as a consumer we check source before buying our Saffron? 

Due to astonishing benefits for medicinal, nutritional and culinary wonders of Saffron. The demand for the Saffron threads is so high, many adulterate or produce fake Saffron and sell it as high grade Saffron. The fake sellers are making a profit out of duping customers and the market for fake Saffron is closing many real Saffron farmers down.

 

Change the world with your wallet

The way we spend our money can help to change the world.

Every time we shop we're voting with our wallet. When we buy from brands that have a positive impact it’s like voting for a better world.

By carefully choosing what we buy, where we buy and looking behind the brands, we can choose products that have a positive impact on people, the planet and animals.

When you are part of a movement of people making similar positive choices we can start to have a big impact on the world around us.

We can help create the type of society we want through buying from companies that take their commitments to our communities seriously.

 

We are faced with many environmental issues, from global warming to pesticide pollution, that can in part be addressed by shopping more ethically.

For example, we can help tackle climate change by switching to a green energy provider or help reduce the amount of dangerous pesticides that are killing wildlife by buying organic products, and remember to look for the trusted organic labels who are independently certified: for example Organic Soil Association, the UK’s largest organic certification body. The Organic Soil Association, formed in 1946, is the only UK charity working across the spectrum of human health, the environment and animal welfare. 

Our mission is Bridging the Gap Between Saffron Farmers of Kashmir and Consumers.

At the heart of the Permaculture Saffron Project is to increase the economic and agriculture resilience of the Kashmiri Saffron farmers to support them in preserving the heritage crop of Kashmir and their way of life.

 

We want to create an environment for Earth Kind Permaculture Saffron project to thrive by encouraging conversation about the origins of the Saffron and bringing the voice of the Saffron farmers directly to consumers.

 

Earth Kind CIC will launch the online Ethical Global Organic Saffron Farmer’s Market to bridge the farmer and consumer gap.

 

The Ethical Global Organic Saffron Farmer’s Market is to supply ethically grown Organic Saffron direct from Permaculture Saffron farmers of Kashmir straight to your doorstep.

This means you are guaranteed that you are getting what you are paying for, authentic and genuine Organic Saffron which is fully traceable from the soil it is grown in, to harvesting, drying, packaging, and is processed in accordance with the UK food hygiene regulations and strict EU and UK organic farming regulations. 

Over to You!

We must respect the people who work so hard and buy saffron only from genuine sources. When you buy saffron from a genuine source you don’t just support the farmers to continue sustaining their way of life and increase their economic and agricultural resilience, but also you don’t support the fake sellers making a profit out of duping customers. Buying from the vetted source also means you will also be helping tackle the problem of rampant exploitation of farmers.

You can help tackle this by, for example shopping for Saffron that carry the Organic Soil Association Logo and mark. 

Buying Organic Certified Saffron, means, not only you are buying a genuine Organic saffron but also absolutely there will be no traces of nasty chemicals and fertilizers in your Saffron. 

Remember if the product you are purchasing does not have the Organic logo with the inspectors code listed on the label it is not Organic.

Please be wary of mislabelled products sold in the market, which say Organic but have no certification number and a logo on their product to back its claim. Please report any sellers you feel are selling mislabelled products. By clicking one of the links below. 

https://www.food.gov.uk/contactconsumersreport-problemreport-a-product-labelling-issue/report-misleading-labelling

https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/contact/ 

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/

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Trees of Hope Supporting Farmers through Agroforestry to tackle the impacts of climate change.

Agroforestry means

combining agriculture

and trees.

Agroforestry is a land management approach with multiple

benefits. Planting trees on farms can give farmers healthier soil

and higher yields – not to mention creating vital homes for

wildlife. 

And trees do more. 

They also fight the cruel effects of a changing climate.

 

They can help:

  • Prevent flooding

  • Reduce city temperature

  • Reduce pollution

  • Keep soil nutrient-rich

Trees of Hope

​​To mitigate the threats of ecological and economic crises and support the Kashmiri farmers for development of regenerative solutions from the combined effects of climate change, conflict, depletion of ecosystems and the added effects of the pandemic.

 

We are creating a platform Trees of Hope that makes it easy to support farmers in Kashmir to plant a tree.

It isn’t just planting any old tree, when you buy a small tree through Trees of Hope alongside with your small Jar of Organic Earth Nectar Saffron,  you are actually financing a grass root farmers in Kashmir who want to plant trees as part of a small Agroforestry system, and we will provide a local knowhow and support to ensure those trees have the best start in life and truly benefit the farmers, their community and the soil. 

Planting trees will stop the soil erosion and increase biodiversity and regenerate and restore their land and help to preserve their way of life and save the heritage crop which has been declining in recent years and is under threat of extinction due to extreme weather conditions. Crops growing in healthy soils give higher yields and higher profits for farmers and assist them to increase their agricultural resilience and productivity and be part of regeneration and resilience-based farming and food growing.

​Your Tree will be photographed, geolocated and monitored by GKPT, over time you can also follow the trees journey. 

So how does this all work? 

Step 1. You buy a tree of your choice through Trees of Hope alongside with your small Jar of Organic Earth Nectar Saffron. A farmer will plant it on his or her land and take care of it. Green Kashmir Permaculture Trust will provide farmers with know-how and technical support for planting and managing trees. 

Step 2. Your tree will be photographed and geolocated, over time you can also follow the trees journey.

Your tree will have its own dedicated online page, where over time it will tell you how it is helping the farmer and the community.

Step 3. The fruits of your tree will belong to the farmer, who will be able to use them as a food resource or support for their income.

Step 4. You will contribute to make the planet greener. As your tree grows, it will absorb CO2, protect the soil and biodiversity.

​Climate change is a huge and complex issue and, as individuals, sometimes we can feel helpless. But there is something we can do with a simpler solution –and it’s our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change: Trees.

Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. Like great carbon sinks, woods and forests absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it up for centuries. They do this through photosynthesis.

The entire woodland ecosystem plays a huge role in locking up carbon, including the living wood, roots, leaves, deadwood, surrounding soils and its associated vegetation.

400+ tonnes carbon per hectare.

That's how much a young wood with mixed native species can lock up in trees, roots and soil.

Buy a small tree today and let your tree become the Trees of Hope. 

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