Assafoetida (Heeng) Plant
- April 30, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Assafoetida (Heeng) Plant
Context- As Himalayan farmers grow the country’s first asafoetida plants, changing weather threatens to play spoilsport.
- Farmers growing Ferula assafoetida, a perennial herb valued for its resin asafoetida (heeng), as part of an initiative by the Institute Of Himalayan Bioresource Technology.
- Although asafoetida has a long history of use in India, both as a flavouring agent and folk medicine, every pinch of it is imported from the Mediterranean regions of Central and East Asia whose cold arid regions offer a suitable environment for the plant to thrive even in the wild.
- Heeng is not cultivated in India. Government data states that India imports about 1,200 tonnes of raw heeng worth Rs 600 crore from Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
- Regions with sandy soil, very little moisture and annual rainfall of not more than 200mm are considered conducive for heeng cultivation in India.
- Some initial experiments were conducted in high altitude districts of Mandi, Kinnaur, Kullu, Manali and Palampur in Himachal Pradesh.
About AssaFoetida (Heeng) Plant:
- Ferula assafoetida is a species of Ferula endemic to Southern Iran.
- F assafoetida grows in cool but dry 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. During extreme weather, the plant can get dormant.
- Though the plant can tolerate temperatures up to 35 degree C, it requires abundant sunshine and thrives in a temperature varying from 10-20 degree C.
- It is a soft- stemmed plant that grows up to 1.5 m in height and has dissected leaves with carrot-like roots.
- After five years, when the plant starts flowering around May, its stem is cut close to the crown and the root is laid bare.
- It exudes a milky substance called oleo gum resin, which is allowed to dry until it turns pale yellow or brown and then scraped off. These scrapings have a strong pungent smell.
- To turn it into an edible spice, the raw extract is mixed with wheat or rice flour.
- One plant produces 20 to 25 grams of asafoetida. While its price depends on the quality, 1 kg of pure asafoetida is sold up to ‘25,000 and 1 ha can earn about ‘10 lakh every five years.
What are some of the benefits of asafoetida?
- Published studies list out a range of medicinal properties of heeng, including relief for digestive, spasmodic and stomach disorders, asthma and bronchitis.
- The herb is commonly used to help with painful or excessive bleeding during menstruation and premature labour.
- Being an anti-flatulent, the herb is fed to new mothers.