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Heeng Cultivation Project in India

  • 20 Oct 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Scientists at CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur are on a mission to grow heeng (asafoetida) in the Indian Himalayas.

Key Points

  • Heeng:
    • It is a herbaceous plant of the umbelliferae family. It is a perennial plant whose oleo gum resin is extracted from its thick roots and rhizome. The plant stores most of its nutrients inside its deep fleshy roots.
    • It is endemic to Iran and Afghanistan, which are also the main global suppliers of it. It is very popular in India and is used in cooking.
    • Climatic Condition: It thrives in dry and cold desert conditions. The plant can withstand a maximum temperature between 35 and 40 degree, whereas during winters, it can survive in temperatures up to minus 4 degree.
      • Regions with sandy soil, very little moisture and annual rainfall of not more than 200mm are considered conducive for heeng cultivation.
      • During extreme weather, the plant can get dormant.
    • Properties: It has medicinal properties, including relief for digestive, spasmodic and stomach disorders, asthma and bronchitis.
      • The herb is used to help with painful or excessive bleeding during menstruation and premature labour.
  • India’s Heeng Cultivation Project:
    • Heeng is not cultivated in India. India imports about 1,200 tonnes of raw heeng worth Rs. 600 crore from Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
    • In 2017, IHBT approached the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) with an experimental project idea to cultivate heeng in the Indian Himalayas.
    • In June 2020, the IHBT inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the agriculture ministry of Himachal Pradesh to jointly cultivate the heeng.
      • The agriculture ministry has identified four locations in the Lahul-Spiti valley and has distributed heeng seeds to seven farmers in the region.
    • However, the challenge for the scientists is that heeng seeds remain under a prolonged dormant phase and the rate of seed germination is just 1%.

Source: IE

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