Udayavni Special

Why scientists are trying to cultivate heeng in the Himalayas?

Team Udayavani, Oct 22, 2020, 2:08 PM IST

Heeng or asafoetida is one of the common ingredients in Indian households. It is also used for its medicinal properties. Now, Indian scientists are cultivating heeng in the Himalayas

According to FE, India imports about 1,200 tonnes of raw asafoetida from other countries. Now, the scientists will be able to cultivate its crop in the Himalayan region of the country

Scientists at CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource, Palampur (IHBT) have already planted the sapling in Lahaul valley, Kwaring village of Himachal Pradesh

Ferula asafoetida 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 mainly cultivated in Iran and Afghanistan as it thrives in dry and cold desert conditions. Every year, Rs 600 crore worth of heeng is imported by the government.

The seeds bought from Iran and NBPGR kept it for research purposes. But to the dormant nature of the seeds, its germination became a challenge.

Several tests found that seeds have adapt techniques that allows 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.

At this Palampur institute, the seeds were studied, and then put to test to see if they would germinate under a controlled laboratory set-up. According to the reports, the experiment is likely to be extended to regions in Ladakh and Uttarakhand.

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