Friday, October 11, 2013

Maize set to glisten on rains

Summer and winter crop expected to total 25 million tonnes, 10% higher than last year's

Riding the wave of a good monsoon, the maize crop in 2013-14kharif and rabi together is likely to have a record production. Industry and farmers are putting the total crop at 24.5 to 25 million tonnes, by the indications available.

According to data from the ministry of agriculture, the sowing area of maize as on October 2 (kharif) had risen by 11 per cent to 8.22 million hectares against 7.4 million hectares in the year-ago period. Rabi production is 20-25 per cent of total production.

Lured by the high remuneration (Rs 1,350-Rs 1,750 a quintal against the minimum support price of Rs 1,175 a quintal last year) the farmers in all maize-growing states have increased the sowing area.

Experts are expecting an increase of at least 10 per cent in the output this year.

According to Raju Choksi, vice-president (agri-commodities), Anil Nutrients, a higher-than-normal monsoon across major growing states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh is likely to further push rabi acreage this financial year. By the first advance estimates of the ministry of agriculture, production is expected at 17.8 million tonnes compared to 16 million by the fourth estimates for 2012-13.

“Production is likely to surpass all records this year. We expect bumper crop as the kharif production may cross 18 million tonnes by the time the ministry comes out with the second advance estimates, as the first estimates are usually very conservative,” he said. Choksi added the rabi production last year was 6.25 million tonnes despite a bad monsoon and so this year production was likely to be higher.

The projections of a higher acreage and yield is music to the ears of the starch industry, operating under thin margins. Many units had closed due to high cost.

According to Vishal Majithia, president of All IndiaStarch Manufacturers' Association, the arrivals of kharif crop may get delayed due to the prolonged monsoon. “It may get deferred by a month. So, we may have a flush of arrivals in December instead of November. The excess rain may increase the moisture content in maize and may also destroy the crop. The high moisture content also mars the prospects of exports,” he added.

He conceded the overall crop should be better than last year’s.

Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, a farmer in Punjab, said the thrust on the diversification of agriculture and the state's efforts have driven farmers towards maize. If the farmers get a price higher than the minimum support price, the trend would continue, he added.

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