Maize (Zea mays L) is one of the most versatile emerging crops having wider adaptability under varied agro-climatic conditions. It is the second rated grain used collectively in the form of foodstuff or fodder. In addition to staple food for human beings and quality feed for animals, maize serves as a basic raw material as an ingredient to thousands of industrial products that includes starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, film, textile, gum, package and paper industries etc. In India, maize is the third most important food crops after rice and wheat.
Globally, maize is known as queen of cereals because it has the highest genetic yield potential among the cereals. Maize can be cultivated in any soil as it requires less fertile soil and chemical fertilizers. Moreover, it requires a comparatively lesser ripening timespan of three months, whereas paddy, for example, takes 145 days.
The United States of America (USA) is the largest producer of maize in the world. Among the maize growing countries, India ranks 4th in area and 7th in production, representing around 4% of the world maize area and 2% of global production.
According to the Government’s Second Advance Estimates of production of major crops for the year 2021-22, Maize production in India is pegged at a record high of 32.42 million tonnes amidst the estimated record foodgrain production of 316.06 million tonnes during the year.
Bulk of the maize production in India, approximately 47%, is used as poultry feed. Of the remaining produce, 13% each is used as livestock feed and for food purpose while the rest is used for industrial purpose as well as exports.
Major Maize Growing States
The maize is cultivated throughout the year in all states of the country. The predominant maize growing states that contributes more than 80% of the country’s total maize production are Andhra Pradesh (20.9%), Karnataka (16.5%), Rajasthan (9.9%), Maharashtra (9.1%), Bihar (8.9%), Uttar Pradesh (6.1%), Madhya Pradesh (5.7%), Himachal Pradesh (4.4%).
Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have the highest area under maize (15% each) followed by Maharashtra (10%), Rajasthan (9%), Uttar Pradesh (8%) and others. In terms of productivity, Andhra Pradesh leads the rest of the states with some districts like Krishna, West Godavari recording as high as 12 tonnes per hectare productivity.
Maize – All India Area and Production
Ideal Soil and Climate
Maize can be grown successfully in variety of soils ranging from loamy sand to clay loam. However, soils with good organic matter content having high water holding capacity with neutral pH are considered good for higher productivity. Being a sensitive crop to moisture stress particularly excess soil moisture and salinity stresses; it is desirable to avoid low lying fields having poor drainage and also the field having higher salinity. Therefore, the fields having provision of proper drainage should be selected for cultivation of maize.
In India, maize is principally grown in two seasons, monsoon (kharif) and winter (rabi). Kharif maize represents around 83% of maize area in India, while rabi maize correspond to 17% maize area.
In kharif season, crop is sown in month of May end to June corresponding with the onset of monsoon. In Rabi Season, the crop is sown in the months of mid-October – November.
Spring crops are sown during late February to end of march. Plantation of baby corn can be done all the year round, except December and January. Kharif and rabi season are best for sweet corn sowing.
Maize has emerged as one of the significant foreign exchange earners for India. According to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the export of maize touched an all-time high of USD 816.31 million in the first ten months of 2021-22 (April-January), already exceeding the USD 634.85 million achieved during the previous financial year.
Maize Exports From India
Source: Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India
From an exports realization of USD 142.8 million in 2019-20, the export of maize increased nearly six fold, taking the total value of shipment to USD 1,593.73 million in the last three years despite logistical challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic outbreak. Bangladesh, Vietnam and Nepal are amongst the key export destination for maize exports from India.