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India can double its maize production to 50 million tones (mt) by 2025 to meet the rising

domestic demand of the crop, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Thursday.
In spite of the drought last year, the maize production stood at 24.17 mt in 2014-15, Singh
said adding this signifies the resilience of maize cultivation against climatic variability.
As per the third advance esitmates, the maize production is projected at 21.02 mt in 201516 crop year.
About 64 per cent of the total maize production is used for poultry feed, followed by 16 per
cent for human consumption, 19 per cent for industrial starch and beverage and 1 per cent
for seed.
Keeping in view the recent interest of urban consumers especially in specialty corn, like
sweet corn, baby corn, popcorn, etc, it is expected that demand for maize as food may rise
to 2 mt by 2025, Singh said.
"By 2025, India will require 50 mt maize for domestic consumption, of which 32 mt for
feed,15 mt for industrial sector, 2 mt as food and 1 mt for seed.Thus, doubling India's maize
production would be an opportunity and it can be achieved," Singh said while addressing
the India Maize Summit organised by an industry chamber here.
The minister said that in order to explore maximum uses of the crop, the maize-based
industry needs to be promoted in a big way and special incentives need to be given for the
cultivation of baby corn, popcorn, sweet corn, multigrain flour etc.
The quality protein maize (QPM) provides nutrient security to even remote areas of the
country and programmes are needed to stress emphasis on the QPM, Singh said adding
that special incentives should be provided to the private companies so that they can provide
improved seed to remote areas like north eastern region.

Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India, is betting big on maize. The Indian
unit of global agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. is investing Rs 425 crore in setting
up a maize milling facility in Davangere in Karnataka that will consume
300,000 tonnes of the commodity every year. "We will continue to grow in
maize milling," says a confident Chaudhry.
The plant, likely to be operational in June 2015, will produce feed for poultry
and cattle, and foods such as glucose and maltodextrin, a source of
carbohydrates. Cargill India is also setting up a cattle feed plant in Bathinda,
Punjab at an investment of Rs 70 crore that will consume another 10,000
tonnes of maize every year. "The government of Punjab wants to encourage
maize cultivation. Our plant will give farmers the confidence to shift from
paddy and grow more maize," says Chaudhry. (Maize and corn are two names
for the same grain-crop.)
Indeed, the demand for maize is spiralling in India. Historically, demand
for the grain has been driven by the poultry and starch industries. But with
changing food habits, the demand for food additives derived from maize is
also growing, says Chaudhry. Cargill India already handles one million tonnes
of maize (nearly five per cent of domestic production). It exports around
500,000 tonnes and markets the remaining 500,000 tonnes locally.
The India maize story has not enthused Cargill alone. In 2006, French
company Roquette, a global leader in starch, acquired 14.9 per cent stake in
Ahmedabad-based Riddhi Siddhi Gluco Biols for an undisclosed amount.
Riddhi was the market leader in the Indian starch industry. In 2012, Roquette
acquired control of Riddhi's starch business for Rs 985 crore. The new
company Roquette Riddhi Siddhi remains the biggest starch maker in the
country. It is managed by Ganpatraj Chowdhary, the founder of Riddhi.

"The demand for


starch is strong and is
growing at 10 to 12
per cent every year
due to rising
consumption in the
food and pharma
industry. We process
around 600,000
tonnes of maize every
year into starch and
are exploring
expansion options,"
says Chowdhary. The
domestic starch
makers together
consume about 2.6
million tonnes of
maize every year.
Maize starch, an
excellent source of
carbohydrate, is a
highly versatile industrial raw material and finds extensive applications in the
textile, food, pharmaceutical and paper industries.
Maize is preferred in poultry feed because of its easy availability. India has
grown to be the fifthlargest egg producer globally and 18th-largest producer of
broiler chicken. In the poultry feed industry maize constitutes about 60 per
cent of the feed and therefore is a critical raw material. Suguna Poultry, the
country's biggest broiler chicken producer, has a separate division to procure
maize. It procures over 800,000 tonnes of maize annually for feed
requirements. "Maize has greater calorific value, is rich in amino acids and has
less toxins compared to grains like millet and broken rice," says a company

official. Wheat is better than maize as a feed but it is costlier by over 20 per
cent, he added.
An ICRA report last year projected an annual demand growth rate of eight to
10 per cent for the broiler and four to five per cent for the egg industry in the
long run, implying a rising demand for maize as a feed. At an annual
production of about 23 million tonnes, maize is the third most produced grain
in India after wheat and rice. Over the past 10 years, maize has been the
fastest-growing grain crop in India. It has witnessed 56 per cent output growth
in the period compared with 20 per cent for rice and 32 per cent for wheat.
The growth has been supported by an absence of government control widely
seen in wheat and rice. The government, from time to time, has been imposing
restrictions on the private purchase of wheat and rice and the exports of these
grains are also regulated.
Interestingly, maize is the most grown grain globally. "Traditionally, most
maize went to livestock as feed but modern technology has helped it find new
uses in food industry with animal protein and starch driving global demand
today. International maize trade is now larger than the international rice
trade," says Samir Shah, Managing Director and CEO at commodities
exchange NCDEX. India is one of the beneficiaries of the booming
international maize trade. The country exported a record five million tonnes of
maize in 2012/13, valued at Rs 7,000 crore and is now the fourth-largest
maize exporter after the US, Brazil and Ukraine. In the last five years, exports
have doubled.
According to Shah, transparent pricing and grading - developing standardised
quality for the trade of the commodity globally - have contributed in a large
way to the growth of maize production in India. "NCDEX futures trading in
the last decade helped develop the value chain and physical market for maize
by giving advance price signals and allowing risk management," he says.
Strong demand has driven average maize prices from Rs 711 a quintal in
2007/08 to Rs 1,326 in 2013/14.
With its wide applications, maize is also referred to as the Queen of Cereals. It
is estimated that nearly one-fourth of the stock keeping units in a modern
grocery store contain maize in one form or the other. These range from

toothpaste, detergent, paper, dyes, soaps to artificial sweeteners, fructose, etc.


Maize also finds application in food containers, plastic food packaging, baby
powder, diapers, medicine, vitamin tablets, textile products, candies and so
on. Maizerich breakfast cereals, cooking oils, snacks and popcorn have also
become popular. Internationally, maize has been processed to produce
bioethanol in a big way for blending with auto fuels. In fact, maize is the only

cereal that has such diverse uses.


Meanwhile, the government has appointed an inter-ministerial panel on crop
diversification to help farmers look beyond paddy which consumes more
water and fertiliser than maize. The agriculture price support policy of the
central government is also designed to boost maize production. In order to
incentivise farmers to diversify, the government fixed the same minimum
support price - Rs 1,310 per quintal - for maize and common variety of paddy
in 2013/14. Six years ago, the support price of common paddy was 20 per cent
higher than maize. It is also unique since it can be grown round the year
though the bulk of production comes from rabi, the winter crop.

Spurring maize production in the country is technological intervention in the


form of hybridisation. It involves crossing two genetically different plants to
produce a desired seed that can grow high yielding plants. The area under
maize hybrids is expanding every year and it is expected to lead to a surge in
production. Cotton production in the country, for instance, has grown by 160
per cent since 2003/04 with the adoption of hybrid cotton seeds. In fact,
maize is the first major cereal crop to benefit from hybridisation.
But while Indian maize production has been rising, there is still a long way to
go - the country's productivity is less than half of the global average. The
productivity in India is 2.5 tonnes per hectare against the world average of 5.5
tonnes. US, the biggest maize producer, has a productivity of 10 tonnes.
Currently, hybrids constitute only about 30 per cent of the area in India under
maize compared with 85 per cent in the US. Directorate of Maize Research, a
body under the Agriculture Ministry, estimates that the area under hybrids
will go up to 90 per cent by 2050. "Maize production has the potential to
double in the next ten years provided we keep our focus on increasing
productivity and keeping markets open for exports," says Ashok Gulati, Chair
Professor of Agriculture at Indian Council for Research on International
Economic Relations.
It is also important to ensure better price discovery of maize. "Maize is mostly
grown by small and marginal farmers. Hence, improved price discovery and
better realisation of crops become key in giving a push to maize production in
India," says Shah. Futures trading in maize is a step in that direction. NCDEX
had launched maize futures contract in 2005 with Nizamabad in Andhra
Pradesh as a delivery centre. With the growing importance of Bihar as a maize
producer it recently launched maize rabi futures with Gulabbagh in Bihar as a
delivery centre.

B.K. Anand, Director and Business Head


(Grains and Oilseeds Crush) for Cargill
India, says maize used to be a
subsistence crop for the farmers few
years ago. "With the rising allocation of
wheat and rice at affordable prices in the
public distribution system at the central
as well as the state level, farmers have
moved away from maize consumption
and it has led to a rise in the marketable
surplus," he says. Direct consumption of
maize is expected to dip further with
rising prosperity levels in rural India.