Heeng cultivation in India: First-ever Heeng cultivation undertaken in India's Lahaul valley, get all details here!

Heeng is one of the widely used spices in Indian cuisine but the spice is not produced in the country. India imports around 1,200 tons of raw heeng annually from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.

Oct 20, 2020 15:09 IST

India has taken up Heeng cultivation for the first-ever time, in an attempt to become self-reliant in the production of the spice and curb its imports.

The first Heeng(Ferula Asafoetida) plantation was done in the cold and dry region of Lahaul and Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh. It was done by Dr. Sanjay Kumar Director CSIR-IHBT.

Heeng is one of the widely used spices in Indian cuisine but the spice is not produced in the country. India imports around 1,200 tons of raw heeng annually from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.

Key Highlights 

•  The CSIR Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) has introduced six accessions of heeng from Iran through the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi. It further standardized its production protocols under Indian conditions.

•  The farmers of Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh have taken up cultivation of hing (asafoetida), primarily because of the efforts of the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT).

•  They are using the vast wasteland in the remote cold desert conditions of the region to cultivate heeng.

•  The first seedling of asafoetida was planted in Kwaring village of Lahaul valley on October 15, 2020 to mark the initiation of its cultivation in India.

What is Heeng?

Asafoetida (Hing) is a herbaceous plant of the Umbelliferae family. It is a perennial plant and produces oleo-gum resin from its thick roots after five years of plantation. The spice is an integral part of Indian cooking.

Where is Heeng commonly cultivated?

Heeng can be grown in cold and dry desert regions. It is generally endemic to Iran and Afghanistan, the main global suppliers. The spice generally thrives in dry and cold desert conditions. 

Benefits of Heeng Cultivation

The cultivation of heeng in India will reduce India's dependence on heeng imports. India typically spends about $100 million per year for Heeng Imports. In 2019, the country imported approximately 1500 tonnes of raw heeng from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan for about Rs 942 crore.

Background

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had signed an MoU with the Agriculture Ministry of Himachal Pradesh in June 2020 to take up Heeng Plantation in the state. The project will be jointly taken ahead in the state over the next five years. 

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