Indian scientists are now cultivating heeng in the Himalayas! One of the common ingredients used in Indian households is heeng or asafoetida. The substance is also used for its medicinal properties. However, it has not been growing in India and the government has to import asafoetida. Every year, Rs 600 crore worth of heeng is imported by the government. Now, the scientists will be able to cultivate its crop in the Himalayan region of the country, The IE reported. According to the report, scientists at CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource, Palampur (IHBT) have already planted the sapling in Lahaul valley, Kwaring village of Himachal Pradesh last week.
It is to note that the plant stores oleo gum resin in its roots and rhizome from where it is extracted. The nutrients in plants are also stored inside deep fleshy roots. Usually, the plant needs dry and cold desert conditions to grow. Therefore, asafoetida is mainly grown and is imported from Iran and Afghanistan. In India and some other European countries, heeng is exported from these two countries. In India, 1,200 tonnes of asafoetida is imported.
Now, scientists have found that some areas in Himalayan region provide proper climatic conditions for asafoetida to grow. According to the report, in 2017, IHBT and NBPGR came up with an experimental project idea that focused on cultivating heeng in the Himalayas. For it, the seeds were brought from Iran and NBPGR kept it for research purposes. When exposed to adverse climatic conditions and a number of tests for infectious diseases and pest attacks, ways to cultivate seeds in the fields were discovered. All permissions were given by Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).
Due to the dormant nature of seeds, germination became a challenge. Work has been done on this. It was found that seed’s have adapted techniques that allow them to survive in desert conditions. The plant can endure a maximum of 35 and 40 degree and a minimum temperature of minus 4 degree. Such conditions are being given to the seeds for them to germinate. Apart from this, four locations in Lahual-Spiti valley have been identified by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The report highlighted that some initial experiments have been conducted in high altitude districts of Kinnaur, Mandi, Manali Kullu, and Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. The experiment is likely to be extended to regions in Ladakh and Uttarakhand.