Agri Business

Scientists urged to step up maize production

Our Bureau Coimbatore | Updated on April 04, 2011

The area under maize had gone up significantly from 3.2 million hectares in the early 1950s to 8.17 million hectares. - Photo: Mohammed Yousuf   -  The Hindu

The Deputy Director-General (Crop Science), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr Swapan Kumar Dutta, urged scientists to accelerate maize production to cope with the anticipated rise in demand by 2025.

“Though India enjoys an exportable surplus of maize at present, there is an urgent need to gear up production and productivity of maize to meet the projected demand of 40-45 million tonnes by 2025.

"The present production is comfortable at 19-20 million tonnes,” he said at the three-day workshop of the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on maize, which concluded here on Sunday.

Around 200 scientists from across the country belonging to both — public and private institutions attended the workshop to take stock of maize research and finalise the technical programme for 2011-12.

While hailing maize as an amazing crop as it is used as food, feed and fodder and is capable of adding vitality to the food security of the country, Dr Dutta said that production and productivity of maize increased appreciably over the years, so much so that the country was in a position to export around 3 million tonnes to several countries at present.

Yield barriers

The introduction of Single Cross Maize Hybrids (SCMH) has helped break yield barriers he said and highlighted the strategies to further strengthen production of maize in the country. “Horizontal growth by way of area expansion can be difficult, which implies that there is a need to increase productivity.” Advocating measures to reduce the gap between potential yield and farmers yield, he said, “the variety that combines Bt trait and herbicide-tolerance is assuming importance, and combined with SCMH, it will become a ‘Dream Maize'.

"Development of low phytate content maize is vital to increase bio-availability of minerals, which is already prevalent in the US and China,” he said.

Recapping the production scenario, TNAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr Murugesa Boopathi, said the area under maize had gone up significantly from 3.2 million hectares in the early 50s to 8.17 m ha and the production and productivity – up by 12 times and 4.5 times to 19.33 million tonnes and 2,414 kg/ha respectively.

“India emerged an exporter of maize only after 2002,” he said. The crop is grown in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. “In Tamil Nadu, it was grown in 3.08 lakh ha in 2009-10 and the productivity at 4 tonnes/ha is higher than the national average,” Dr Boopathi said.

Export potential

Underscoring the export potential, he said, “maize is increasingly used for bio-fuel production. In the US, about 14 per cent of maize, which is roughly about 46 mt is diverted for ethanol production.

"Due to new industrial uses, global demand is exceeding supply. Since the demand, especially in Asia is increasing rapidly, there is huge potential for increasing maize export,” he added

Published on April 04, 2011

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