Agri Business

Focus on maize upsets millet group

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on June 22, 2011

Ready-for-harvest pearl millet

The National Millet Network of India (NMNI), a national level advocacy group to promote millets, has flayed the Andhra Pradesh Government for its skewed policy of giving undue focus on maize, cultivation of which is fast increasing.

The State Government has announced a subsidy for maize farmers. “While this might appear good news for farming sector in general, we have serious concerns about how it will affect food security for Andhra Pradesh. This will adversely impact millet cultivation in the State in particular,” Dr P.V. Satheesh, National Convener of NMNI, said.

He alleged that maize's use in the production of bio-fuels must have forced the State to declare a subsidy of Rs 5,000 an acre.

“While Bt cotton had taken over all of black soil in the country, maize was going to dominate red soils, leaving almost no land for nutrient-rich millets. This would eat into the millet area,” he said.

Mr Satheesh, who is also the Director of Deccan Development Society, wrote a letter to Mr N Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Chief Minister, making a strong case for millets. He alleged that maize was an industrial crop not a food crop. “Of all the maize grown in India, just about 35 per cent is used for human consumption with the rest going to feed industry, cereal industry, production of starch, dextrose, corn syrup, corn oil and ethanol,” he said.

In the last 10 years, area under maize doubled to 8.56 lakh hectares from 4.52 lakh ha and production trebled to 42.20 lakh tonnes from 14.72 lakh tonnes. “A subsidy is normally given to save a crop when it is in distress. But the policy attention and promotion for maize, a highly successful and exponentially growing crop, makes it suspect from the food security point of view. Why is a crop that is not staple food in any part of AP is being encouraged so aggressively,” he asked.

Published on June 22, 2011

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