Efforts to enhance cultivation of Heeng and Saffron initiated

  • IASbaba
  • June 16, 2020
  • 0
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Efforts to enhance cultivation of Heeng and Saffron initiated

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology; Agriculture 

In News:

  • To increase the production of Heeng and Saffron in India, the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) and the Department of Agriculture, Government of Himachal Pradesh (HP), have forged strategic and implementation partnership based on their mutual strengths. 

Key takeaways 

  • This partnership is expected to provide immense benefits to HP by way of:
    • increased farm income
    • livelihood promotion
    • rural development. 
  • A number of steps will be undertaken:
    • Transfer of innovations by means of capacity building 
    • Skill development
    • Other extension activities.
  • Introduction of these crops will reduce the import. 
  • CSIR-IHBT will: 
    • provide technical know-how to the farmers
    • impart training to state agriculture department officers and farmers. 
    • set up corm and seed production centres of Saffron and heeng, respectively. 
  • IHBT has developed the production technology for Saffron and introduced its cultivation in non-traditional areas of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • It has also developed tissue-culture protocol for the production of disease-free saffron.
  • It has introduced six accessions of heeng from Iran through the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi, and standardized its production protocols under Indian conditions. 
  • Technical supervision of Saffron production areas shall also be undertaken. 
  • Exposure visits of farmers will also be done. 
  • A total of 750 acres of land will be covered under these crops in the state in the next five years. 
  • A state-of-the-art tissue-culture lab will be established for large-scale production of quality planting material of these crops.

Important value additions 

  • Saffron and Heeng (asafoetida) are the most valuable spices of the world and widely used in Indian cuisine since time immemorial. 
  • In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. 
  • Hence, a large amount of Saffron is being imported. 
  • Similarly, there is no production of heeng in India and currently about 1200 tons of raw heeng worth Rs 600 crore is being imported from Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan. 


  • It is a perennial plant and it produces oleo-gum resin from the roots after five years of plantation. 
  • It can be grown in unutilized sloppy land of cold desert regions.


  • It is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. 
  • The vivid crimson stigma and styles, called threads, are collected and dried for use mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. 
  • It has long been the world’s most costly spice by weight. 

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