CHANDIGARH: Stressing the need in the future for the cultivation of maize crop in the region, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon on Monday said that by cultivating maize, farmers in Punjab and other states in the region can protect worsening quality of soil, save 90 per cent of water and 70 per cent of power as compared to paddy and even earn more far more than through paddy and wheat, especially in North India.
Addressing farmers and industry representatives at the 6th Progressive Farmers Meet with focus on Maize, jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) & Mehram Publications Pvt. Ltd at CII NR Headquarters in sector-31, here on Monday, Dr Dhillon said, “There is immense potential for Maize in food processing sector and hence the central and state governments and agencies should work together to create food processing hubs in the north especially in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Western Uttar Pradesh, where maize in large quantities can be cultivated.”
He pointed out that there was a need to for all stakeholders like farmers, government, R & D institutes, universities, industry and associations to come together and synthesize maize cultivation, processing and marketing and only when such economic viability models were created, only then diversification would be successful in its true sense.
Regarding sustainable agriculture practices, Dr Dhillon said, “Water usage should be optimized, drip irrigation needs to be followed, farmers should be educated about the latest technologies, the industry institute linkages should be strengthened to bring in economically viable technologies and practices for small farmers and proper infrastructure like silos and warehouses need to be set up across north to reduce post harvest losses.”
Dr Sain Dass, ex-Director Maize, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) & Advisor (Hybrids) NSC, New Delhi said that at present, the total production of maize in India is 14.8 million tonnes while the demand is five times, 75 million tonnes in the country alone.
“The huge demand for maize comes from the ever growing processed food, poultry, Pharma and textile sectors in addition to paper, alcohol, film, tyres and brewing industry as starch. Maize is also used as for making Biofuels like Etahnol. Approximately 1.1 lakh tonnes of maize are being imported each year,” he said.
“Sweet corn and baby corn products have very low cost of production and high profitability, so we need to tap the potential. In Punjab, 70 per cent of the frozen sweet corn is imported from Maharashtra with Rs 30 per Kg as the transportation costs. The farmers in Punjab can benefit tremendously by producing Maize locally. Maize cultivation can do wonders to the worsening water table and soil quality in the northern states. Another advantage is that the crop takes just 80 to 90 days. So farmers can earn large revenues in very less time duration”, shared Dr Mangal Singh Sandhu, Director – Agriculture, Punjab government.
Major Manmohan Singh Verka was awarded the most progressive farmer of the year and Dr Sukhpal Singh, Senior Economist (PAU) was awarded the Agro Scientist of the year 2013 at the function.