Efforts to enhance cultivation of Heeng and Saffron initiated
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and Technology; Agriculture
- 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.
- 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.