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FICCI recommends publication of ‘maize atlas’ for boosting growth

Underlining the potential of maize cultivation for the agriculture sector and as an alternative for crop diversification, a premier industry body has exhorted on publishing a ‘maize atlas’ as guide for enhanced and sustained production in India.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, in a recent report called for implementation of a clear strategic roadmap which addresses the challenges for acreage expansion of the crop, diversification, technological intervention and improving post-harvest methods for quality assurance.

“The “maize atlas” could catalyse the process of crop planning, promotion and regulation for maize, facilitate strategic direction for contract farming, FPO formation and large-scale integration of small farmers into an organised maize supply chain,” the report titled ‘Boosting Growth of India’s Maize Ecosystem’ said.

It strongly suggested mapping of the agro-climatic, supply chain requirements and specific focus geographies for promotion of specific varieties of maize that would cater to the requirement of each industry.

India ranks 4th and 7th in terms of global maize acreage and production which is the third most important food grain in the country after rice and wheat.

Today, apart from the traditional states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, maize is increasingly being cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The cultivation is being carried out across seasons. Its consumption in India has grown  at a CAGR of 5.6 per cent while production grew at just about 2.9 per cent.

As a means to address the crop acreage expansion plan, the report recommended the development of a farmer and farmland database utilising the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana initiative which is under the implementation phase.

Partnerships with private companies and research institutes can also be encouraged for research and introduction of maize seeds resistance to water logging conditions and low temperature.

The report pitched for wide-scale adoption of high yielding and stress tolerant hybrid seeds with focus on single cross hybrid Introduction.

“Focused drive is needed to deliver high yielding varieties for crops cultivated in traditional areas for food purposes and high yielding stress tolerant crops cultivated in rainfed kharif.

Towards this, while private seed companies could play a critical role in introducing globally best quality hybrids, governments need to review repetitive procedures such as the need for a three year confirmatory trial for any hybrid seed being introduced into the state, in spite of it having been tested and approved elsewhere in the country”, the report underscored.

It also recommended setting up of high quality standardised labs at state level to carry out complex tests like DNA fingerprinting for accurate prediction of hybridity and faster approval of hybrid seeds.

Some other key recommendations included plant protection in view of high level of pest infestation, farm mechanisation, irrigation measures such as adoption of micro irrigation and access to finance and insurance for maize cultivators.

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