After successful trials for growing heeng (asafoetida) in the tribal Lahaul Spiti district, the Himachal Pradesh government is now working to expand its farming to other areas where the temperature is suitable for its farming.

Under the expansion programme, the State Agriculture department had planted heeng plants in Janjehli in Seraj in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh on 13 November.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Shekhar C Mande, State Agriculture Director Naresh Kumar Badhan, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) Palampur Director Sanjay Kumar along with other scientists were present on the occasion. State Agriculture Director Naresh Kumar Badhan said the areas of Mandi, Chamba, Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur districts have temperatures suitable for the farming of asafoetida and saffron (kesar).

“The state government has decided to promote asafoetida and saffron farming under agriculture for prosperity scheme and has signed an MoU with IHBT Palampur for this,” he added.

Badhan said during demonstration plantation of heeng plantation in Janjehli, the farmers and officials were given information on various methods to pursue its farming to ensure success of these crops. “As these crops need adequate irrigation facilities, the officials have been directed to further strengthen the facilities in these areas. The state government has also made a provision of Rs 10 crore for farming of these crops and a target of bringing 302 hectares area under heeng farming in 5 years and 3.5 hectares area under saffron in 3 years, has been set,” he said. Badhan added the Agriculture department was making concerted efforts to fulfill these targets to improve the economy of farming communities and diversify crops.

India presently consumes 40 percent of total production of crop produced worldwide but doesn’t produce the spice which is most sought after in the country.