NEW DELHI, 23 March 2018 : Indian Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh has called for a package of measures to boost maize production and productivity and realise its potential as the future cereal crop.
Inaugurating the fifth edition of FICCI's 'India Maize Summit '18', Singh said that there was a need for a mix of strategies and interventions around technological innovations, promoting producer aggregation and linkages, enabling supporting infrastructure, forging public-private partnerships and appropriate policy measures.
"Forging PPP opportunities for establishment of maize-based silage making units, Skill Development Centres and farm machinery banks are the prospective avenues for investment," he said.
Singh added that these avenues need to be tapped and scaled up to increase mechanization in Maize production. Between now and 2050, the demand for maize in the developing world will double, and by 2025 maize will have become the crop with the greatest production globally and in the developing world.
In India, most of the maize produced is used for animal feed and only a small portion utilized for human consumption. Its full potential, therefore, is yet to be realised, he said.
The Minister pointed out that only 15% of cultivated area of maize is irrigated. It was time to link Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani), improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More Crop per Drop) to increase the production, productivity and quality of the maize crop in the country.
He said that Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare was focusing on reforms on agri-marketing and has made special announcements on developing and upgrading existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) with a corpus of Rs. 2000 crore. "I would suggest the maize agri-business companies should make special efforts to create linkages with maize farmers on ground by exploring various opportunities in agri-marketing," he said.
The Minister released a FICCI-pwc knowledge report on 'Maize Vision 2022'.
Bihar Agriculture Minister Dr. Prem Kumar, gave an overview of maize production strategies in the state and said that that the agriculture roadmap of 2017 focussed on ensuring higher and cost-effective production of maize. Maize, he added, would soon be brought under the ambit of organic farming, currently confined to cultivation of vegetables.
CEO, National Rain-fed Area Authority Dr. Ashok Dalwai, said that the legal framework for post-production facilities in the shape of the new Agriculture Marketing Act and Contract Farming Act would bring about the required change in farming landscape. States, he said, need to be active in adopting the law to the advantage of farmers.
MSP, he added, was the last resort to come to the aid of the farmers. It was not a remunerative price, which is more than MSP. The need of the hour was to create a competitive environment market and a secondary market within agriculture to create jobs, incentivize farmers, raise incomes and give a fillip to industries based on maize.
Director General, FICCI, Dilip Chenoy, in his address, pointed out that maize qualifies as a suitable candidate for realising the Prime Minister's vision of doubling farmers' income by 2022. This was because about 15 million farmers were engaged in maize cultivation. By cultivating maize, farmers can save 90% of water and 70% of power as compared to paddy and earn far more than they are earning through paddy and wheat; and maize was less water demanding and gives higher yield per hectare in a shorter period compared to other crops. He laid stress on establishing maize-based Skill Development Centres (SDCs) and suggested that the Government of India could contemplate running such SDCs for maize in a PPP mode.
MD & CEO, National Collateral Management Services Ltd., Sanjay Kaul said that it was important to recognise that unlike other crops, maize was not a food crop but an industrial crop as only 12-13% was used for human consumption. Therefore, there was need for creating a competitive market which the industry finds attractive and private investment is forthcoming.