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Asafoetida Cultivation

Asafoetida Cultivation

Context:

The Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) took up the Asafoetida Cultivation in India to utilize vast expanses of wasteland in the cold desert conditions of the region.

Asafoetida:

  • 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.
  • Asafoetida is one of the top condiments and is a high-value spice crop in India.
  • India imports about 1200 tonnes of raw asafoetida annually from Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.
  • The raw asafoetida is extracted from the fleshy roots of Ferula assa-foetida as an oleo-gum resin.
  • There are about 130 species of Ferula found in the world, but only Ferula assa-foetidais the economically important species used for the production of asafoetida.
  • India does not have Ferula assa-foetida, but other species Ferula jaeschkeana is reported from the western Himalaya (Chamba, HP), and Ferula narthex from Kashmir and Ladakh, which are not the species that yield asafoetida.

Favourable conditions:

  • The first asafoetida sapling, grown at IHBT’s Centre for High Altitude Biology, was planted by in Kwaring village of Lahaul valley.
  • The agriculture ministry has identified four locations in the valley and has distributed heeng seeds to seven farmers in the region.
  • Asafoetida best grows in dry and cold conditions.
  • The plant can withstand a maximum temperature between 35 and 40 degrees, whereas, during winters, it can survive in temperatures up to minus 4 degrees.
  • The regions with sandy soil, very little moisture and an annual rainfall of not more than 200mm are considered conducive for heeng cultivation in India.

Benefits of Asafoetida:

  • The medicinal properties of heeng are a 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 pre-mature labour.

Source: Indian Express