New Delhi : Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh today exhorted the corporate sector to step in and add value to the maize produce to enhance farm incomes and reap sustainable dividends for itself.
Inaugurating the India Maize Summit, 2016, organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX), Singh said in spite of 12 percent below average rainfall in 2014-15, the worst ever drought in last five years, maize production stood at 24.17 million tonnes.
Maize production declined by just 0.37 percent as compared to 4.9 percent reduction in total food grain production. This signifies the resilience of the maize system against climatic variability.
Maize is primarily used for feed (64 percent) followed by human food (16 percent), industrial starch and beverage (19 percent) and seed (1 percent). Thus, maize has attained an important position as industrial crop because 83 percent of its produce is used in starch and feed industries.
The Minister said that in view of the increasing demand of specialty corn (baby corn, sweet corn), FICCI can play an important role in further strengthening the public-private partnership by encouraging the establishment of corn-based industry.
He said maize is a very suitable crop for supply of green fodder to dairy industry. The cultivars of baby corn are most suitable for the development of stage. FICCI, he said, could take initiative for the promotion of silage industry in various states of the country.
Singh said that in order to explore high uses of maize, the maize based industry need to be promoted in a big way. Special incentives need to be given for the cultivation of specialty corn like, baby corn, popcorn, sweet corn, multigrain flour etc.
The QPM (Quality Protein Maize) provides nutrient security to even remote areas and special efforts/programmes are needed to give emphasis to QPM in the country and special incentives to be provided to private sector so that they may provide improved seed to remote areas like north eastern region.
On the occasion, the Minister released a FICCI-Synergy Technofin Knowledge Paper which provides insights, recent trends and emerging challenges facing the maize industry.
In his special address, Ashok M.R. Dalwai, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, said that there was a need for a demand-driven approach to increase crop productivity and move from low value crop to high value crop. He added that adopting single-hybrid crops could immensely benefit the sector.
Dalwai said that Indian diet lacks nutritional value and maize could be a great supplement. He suggested that emphasis should be laid on producing Quality Protein Maize and added that industry should work towards value addition to maize as it was a versatile crop with varied uses. Crop geometry should be adopted keeping farmers’ interest in mind to match global standards.
Sarat Mulukutla, Chief Commercial Segment, NCDEX, said that it was important to build market linkages and give the farmer a choice of markets. Encouraging farmer participation in regulated markets was one such way. NCDEX undertakes extensive training and capacity building programs for various Farmer Producer Companies, Resource organizations and NGOs, across the country to educate and build marketing skills amongst farmers.
Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that there was a need to enhance the productivity of maize while increasing the income of the framers. The state governments along with various stakeholders were making a conscious effort towards this end. He added that the government was cognizant of the needs of the maize sector and the Maize Summit was an effort to bring to fore the global and domestic scenario of maize and issues confronting the maize supply chain.
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.
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 percent, 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 post-harvest handling, the knowledge paper notes.
The session was moderated by Vinay Mathur, Deputy Secretary General, FICCI, who also delivered the vote of thanks. (ANI)