Impressed by the success of two maize dryers, the Punjab government is considering to import dryers from Taiwan to boost maize cultivation. The move also aims at shifting chunk of area under paddy as an alternate crop inturn giving the much-needed impetus to its agriculture diversification programme.
The government had recently imported two dryers from Taiwan which were installed in Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts. Grain with high percentage of moisture commands a very low price in the market as compared with the dry grain. Sun drying at season is not possible due to cloudy and rainy weather. To overcome this, the government had introduced maize dryers in these two districts. Each dryer has four units, with a combined capacity of 64 metric tonnes per batch. Till date the state has processed around 600 tonnes of maize by deploying these two machines.
Source said the state government was satisfied by the results, as these machines help the farmers in reducing the moisture content as desired by the buyers and also help in storage. It has decided to replicate this model in the remaining 13 districts of the state. The current cropping pattern in the state is dominated by wheat and rice. Area under maize cultivation projected in 2013-14 was 1.50 lakh hectares and the estimated production was 5.40 lakh metric tonnes. Last year it was 1.29 lakh hectares and the production was 4.75 lakh metric tonnes.
"This step will enable farmers to fetch remunerative price of the maize crop in the mandis because dried maize fetches better returns as compared to maize with moisture content," he said.
Since each dryer costs around ~5 crore, it is difficult for the farmers to afford it and hence they may use the services of a farming cooperative or rent it to avail services of a dryer.
The state government has also approved the transfer of 100 hectares of land in Ladowal near Ludhiana to the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) for setting up directorate of maize research in the state. The step will give a major thrust to the much-needed agricultural diversification programme in Punjab. This endeavour would also help in development of new hybrid and high-yielding varieties of maize, thereby contributing in improving farmers' incomes.