Sufficient amount of rainfall, though late, in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has revived hopes of a bumper maize crop. These two southern states, which account for over 30 per cent of the country’s annual maize production, are set to record a 25 per cent increase in the production of maize at 4.6 million tonnes for the current kharif season despite a 6.25 per cent drop in the area under cultivation.
According to agriculture department officials in Andhra Pradesh, the area under maize cultivation has witnessed a drop of 17.5 per cent to 438,000 hectares compared to the last kharif season. The drop in area under maize is mainly due to the shift in cropping pattern. Farmers in the state have made a large-scale diversion towards paddy and cotton due to better rainfall this year, the officials pointed out. However, the production is likely to see an increase of 44 per cent to 1.42 million tonnes due to rise in productivity. This was possible due to timely sowing as a result of good rainfall and negligible incidence of pest attack across growing regions in the state, officials stated.
The harvesting of the crop for the current season is expected to commence by middle of October and the new crop will hit the market by the end of October. Compared to Andhra Pradesh, the situation is far better in Karnataka, where maize sowing has been carried out on 1.15 million hectares as against 1.16 million hectares last year. The production is estimated to increase 18-19 per cent to 3.2 million tonnes. Though the sowing was delayed due to late arrival of monsoon in the state, the output is likely to be higher than last year because of fair and wide distribution of rain.
In Davanagere district, which is the major growing area in the state, the sowing has been completed on 173,000 hectares and the production is estimated at 800,000 tonnes. The crop in Karnataka is likely to be harvested towards the end of November.
The department of agriculture in Karnataka has recommended Rs 925 a quintal for the current kharif crop, an increase of 5.1 per cent over Rs 880 a quintal announced by the Centre. Meanwhile, farmers in Davanagere have demanded the government to announce a price of Rs 1,500 a quintal. They have warned of an agitation if the government fails to meet their demand before October 2.
Currently, prices for old stock are quoted at Rs 11,000 a tonne. However, the prices for the fresh crop may not be at this level. The traders expect them to be around Rs 9,500 a tonne initially and as the arrivals increase, the prices may settle at around Rs 9,000 a tonne, a marginal drop of 5.2 per cent. However, prices will be higher by 7.9 per cent over the minimum support price of Rs 8,800 a tonne announced by the Centre for the current year.
“We expect the prices to settle at around Rs 9,000 a tonne for November and December. Prices will gradually move up to around Rs 9,250-9,500 by January next year”, Sanjay Jain, purchase manager at Riddhi Siddhi Gluco Biols, an Ahmedabad-based maker of maize-based starch and derivatives said.
The seed grade maize is currently quoted at Rs 11,700 a quintal at the spot market in Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh.
The country’s overall production of maize is likely to be around 15.5 million tonne compared to 12 million tonne last year, showing a growth of 29 per cent. The Rabi crop is estimated at 4.5 million tonne this year.