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Learning to grow maize from Pakistan

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi/ Jalandhar 

Although the efforts of the in persuading farmers to diversify crops have not yielded the desired results, a farmer of the Doaba region has learnt lessons in cultivating maize from Pakistan.
did not, however, conceal the lesson. His methods have helped the production of the maize crop increase by about 300 per cent in the area.
Pawanjot learnt the new method when he went to Pakistan in June 2004. After noting down the technical details, Pawantjot implemented the technique in his fields and his produce doubled last year.
In the traditional method of cultivating maize, Pawanjot said farmers did not take care of the direction of the seeds while sowing but in Pakistan the farmers were very particular about this.
"In Pakistan, farmers sow the crop from east to west with heaps at a distance of 24-27 inches and the plant distance is 7-8 inches," he said.
Hardev Singh Sangha, another farmer of the region who adopted the pattern, said the new technique was "magic". His harvest of maize has increased from 15 quintals per hectare to about 30 quintals per hectare in the last two years.
The best period for cultivating maize is January-February and May-June. During this period, the fields are free from the potato crop, he says, adding that by cultivating maize, a rotation of the crops takes place.
Sangha said as the crop required little irrigation, the cost of production was smaller than that of paddy. Besides, due to high demand for the crop, the market rates were good.
Apart from great demand in the domestic markets, maize had huge export potential because the crop could be used as bio-fuel also, Sangha said, adding that the crop even increased the fertility of the soil.
Asked about the efforts of the government, Sangha said all such efforts were only on paper and by providing free power supply to farmers, the state government was jeopardising its own efforts in the diversification of crops, because such freebies encouraged farmers to grow wheat and paddy only.
Instead of supplying free power, the government should give an option to farmers to pay for it and get 24-hour supply, he said.
"If the state government is serious about diversification, it should encourage farmers to grow maize, for which an assured marketing network both in the domestic and international markets should be established," he said.

First Published: Sat, March 22 2008. 00:00 IST