On December 4, 2017, the Maharashtra state cabinet approved a bill that creates a commission to regulate saffron, a crop that has been linked to the health benefits of saffron products (see Why is India importing more saffron?)
As a result, saffron, which is found everywhere in Asia, North, Central, Pacific West, and Africa, is now legal to wear in India, with one government official saying that “it is a major step forward”.
And though I’ve been doing some research, it appears that the ban on wearing saffron in parts of the world that are part of the Global Grown Saafron Task Force was not imposed by India’s government as some have suggested. This comes from the work of M.D. Rajagopalan:
“We found that the same Indian government banned imported saffron over 10 years ago and, since then, there has been no new import, export, sale, export of, or importation of saffron on the list of prohibited items,” Dr. Rajagopalan, an expert in chemical science, agriculture and food production, told the news agency Press Trust of India. He said the list was introduced by the Agriculture Ministry when Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to make it easier for other countries and international organisations to export saffron. “There is no mention on the website of any amendment or restriction made by the ministry,” he said. “The ministry has not provided any reason for such an amendment,” Dr. Rajagopalan said.
So, the move was probably passed for policy reasons… but did it affect the market in any way? In short, no…
“There may be some impact on the market, however it is a moot point on the demand side as the price is very low as a result of global demand,” said the minister for agriculture, Harsimrat Kaur Badal. She added that if there is a threat to crop, the farmers concerned would be protected, and if there is no threat to crop, it is “absolutely imperative” that the farmers are aware of the “prohibition” in case of market restrictions.
The news agency also reported that this new ban came amid a recent slowdown of production in India and a recent drop in sales. If Indian growers are worried about the impact of a global saffron ban, that is understandable. But they should be concerned, for there are far more problems to worry about, including the
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