All India Coordinated Research Project on Linseed

Project Coordinator’s message

linseed/ Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) is one of the oldest crop plants cultivated in around 47 countries for the purpose of seed oil and fibre. In South West Asia and Canada, it is primarily cultivated for oil whereas in Russia, Egypt and north western European countries it is mainly cultivated for the production of high quality fibre for making linen fabrics and several other products.


linseed occupies an area of 32.23 lakh ha yielding 30.68 lakh tonnes with an average productivity of 952 kg/ha in the world whereas in India, it occupies an area of 1.7 lakh ha with a production and productivity of about 1 lakh tonnes and 574 kg/ha, respectively. India holds fifth position in area after Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Canada and China but ranks sixth in production after Kazakhstan, Canada, Russian Federation, China and USA (FAO Stat., 2019). Though there has been slight improvement in average productivity over the previous years but it is still far below the experimental yield (1400-1800 kg/ha) or potential yield (2000-2200 kg/ha) of improved linseed varieties in the major linseed growing nations such as Canada (1432 kg/ha), China (1308 kg/ha), USA (1258 kg/ha) and Kazakhstan (809 kg/ha) underlying the need for up scaling the production and productivity of this crop. The present status of linseed production could be increased 2-3 fold through the adoption of improved varieties coupled with recommended production and protection technologies.


The major linseed growing states in India are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Nagaland and Assam accounting for about 97 percent of total area of the country. Madhya Pradesh is the leading state both in area and production followed by Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Tawa command area and Sagar division of Madhya Pradesh have enormous potential to further upscale the production and productivity of the crop in the state. Its continued cultivation on marginal and sub marginal soil under input starved conditions, low Seed replacement ration (SRR) and lack of policy intervention in terms of market price and procurement support are some of the major factors leading to low profitability of the crop.


Systematic and intensive breeding programmes carried out  under AICRP on linseed has led to the development and release of 87 improved varieties including 10 dual purpose varieties suitable for different agro climatic growing situations of the country. During 2019-20, seven varieties were recommended for general cultivation. Dual purpose linseed with distinction of yielding seed as well as fibre can be a viable option for doubling the income of farmers. There is a need for the establishment of a pilot project in selected areas under Public – Private Partnership (PPP) mode to commercialize and exploit the inherent potential of dual-purpose linseed cultivars. Moreover, attempts should also be made to develop flax varieties with standard fibre quality parameters which is currently initiated in collaboration with the National Institute for Natural Fibre Engineering and Technology (NINFET), Kolkata.

Flax seeds have been widely used in Indian cooking and cuisines from time immemorial and eaten as a supplement as well. Flax seeds are added to chutneys and breads like chapatis and parathas. Flax seeds are also substituted for eggs since, they form a gummy solution when mixed with water. However, modern diet is deficient in this crucial omega-3 fatty acid, leading to increase in severity and incidences of several chronic metabolic disorders.


In India and abroad considering the importance of linseed, various value added products from linseed in India and abroad have been developed. Flax-fiber is another important component from linseed which has huge techno-commercial importance in the paper and textile industry and has great demand across the globe. Lustrous fibres obtained from the linseed straw combines strength, durability and blending quality with other natural and artificial fibres and thus, serves as an essential raw material in the manufacture of linen based fabrics, special grade papers used in printing currencies and for use in cigarettes. 



Incorporation of omega-3 fatty acid/linseed in common food not only improves nutritive value of the product significantly but, it  can also play a key role in establishing backward linkages with farmers, forward integration with the industries and thus ensures nutritional security of the population and demands income security of  the Indian farmers.


High yielding varieties insulated against major biotic and abiotic stresses, good agronomic practices including plant protection measures developed under AICRP on linseed and policy support from Government can certainly enable the farmers to produce more linseed in the years to come. However, to achieve self-sufficiency in linseed production there is a need for long-term investment in research and development on sustained basis besides sustained favorable policy support.