Agriculture Minister urges corporate sector to add value to maize produce
FICCI-Synergy Technofin Paper
The FICCI-Synergy Technofin Knowledge Paper states that India is traditionally a major exporter of maize to Southeast Asia but the fall in its production from record 24.26 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 21 million tonnes in 2015-16 has forced India to ban its export and prepare to import corn for the first time in 16 years to help ensure its availability in the domestic market. To combat this situation, emphasis should be on increased yield per unit area and augmented productivity levels to help buffer production against acreage fluctuations and vagaries of weather.
Driven by structural changes in agriculture and food consumption patterns, maize is bound to hold its share as an important cereal crop in future. Besides its export potential and diversified uses, maize cultivation offers solutions for sustainable intensification of agriculture. By cultivating maize, farmers can protect the worsening quality of soil, save 90 per cent of water and 70 per cent of power as compared to paddy and earn far more than they are earning through paddy and wheat.
Domestic utilization of maize in India is high and net surplus available for exports is less. Stock to consumption ratio in India is low. Production fluctuation,
largely because of rainfed cultivation of the crop in large pockets, has not encouraged steady exports from the country. India exports maize in small quantities to South East Asia, Bangladesh and Nepal. Major importers of maize, e.g. the EU, Japan, Mexico and South Korea depend on the USA, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine for supply. Ukraine and Argentina are the emerging players in maize trade with impressive growth rates in productivity and production.
The paper states that while area under maize will fluctuate as a resultant of demand, policies and agro climatic conditions, emphasis should be on increased yield per unit area. Increase productivity can help buffer production against acreage fluctuations and vagaries of weather.
While several potential HYVs and hybrids have been released, awareness and adoption is a challenge. Seed replacement ratio for maize in India is 60-65%, though it is much higher for hybrids. Promoting cultivars apposite to different end uses and agro climatic conditions is another challenge.
Post-harvest processes in India are not scientific and conventional methods of storage and handling influence quality and price realized by farmers. High moisture content in stored grains affects the market value of grains. Initiatives to set up maize drying units, e.g. in Punjab, is a laudable effort in post-harvest management. Maize value chain in India can thus be strengthened with adoption of appropriate cultivars, scientific crop management and improved postharvest handling, the knowledge notes.