Asafoetida(aka hing) is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine. But, till now, India didn’t cultivate this on its own. Hing was imported from countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran. India annually spends approx. USD $130 million on Hing import. But now scientists from CSIR has planted saplings in Himachal Pradesh with the hope that India doesn’t need to import hing any more.
India loves Hing
India consumes 40% of the world’s hing. Hing has a very distinct savory flavor, which Indians love. Hing is also used in the making of many traditional medicines. And, it is this high demand in India that leads to the high price of Hing in India. A hundred grams of Hing can cost around 300 to 1000 rupees in India.
Cultivating Hing in India
Himachal Pradesh was chosen to cultivate Hing as some of its districts have a climate very similar to that of Afghanistan. Currently, the scientists have started on a few hectares on land, but once when the quality reaches the standard of the foreign one, the cultivation will expand to Ladakh, Uttarakhand, and Arunachal Pradesh. Scientists have also worked closely with Himachal Pradesh’s government to educate the farmers on how to cultivate hing.
IHBT has set up a tissue culture lab that can quickly grow lots of saplings. This can eventually lead to India not importing hing anymore from foreign countries.