Rising demand to boost maize production

Planting and maize production are expected to increase further in fiscal year 2017-18 on the expectation of increased demand for food from the poultry and poultry industries. Aquaculture, said the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently.

Grain cultivation, also known as maize, can increase by 8% to 4.4 hectares lakh next year, while production is expected to be 31 lakh tons.

"This increase in planted area reflects farmers' desire to use less fertile clay soil," USDA said in its report on cereals and food in Bangladesh.

Grain production is estimated at 8 percent to 28 lakh tons this fiscal year, according to the agency.

Maize is now the second largest cereal after rice in Bangladesh, relegating wheat to the third post, with production of nearly 13 lakh tonnes per year.

Since the beginning of commercial maize farming in Bangladesh in the mid – 1990s, annual corn production has grown from a low 65 000 tonnes in 1997-1998 to about 23 lakh tonnes for the 1990s. 2014-2015, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

Apart from the spiral demand of the animal feed industry, fewer requirements for irrigation and profit prospects, the availability of hybrid seed and the Government policy support encouraged farmers to shift to grain from other crops such as rice and wheat.

The maize growing area in Bangladesh has increased by 16% per year over the past five years, a faster growth rate compared to any other crop, according to the USDA. "Growth is fueled by an increase in the use of crop as an ingredient in foods for livestock and poultry sectors, which has helped maintain margins for corn producers" .

The mechanisms of the market price of maize are sensitive and farmers react quickly to changes in prices of maize and competing crops, according to the USDA.

"A study estimated that a 10 percent increase in maize prices results in a 4 percent increase in production," he added, adding that the growing shortage of water for Irrigation also pushed farmers to switch to cultivation.

The agency said the corn growing season is in conflict with the seasons for growing wheat, boro rice, potatoes and winter vegetables.

Nonetheless, he stated that grain cultivation remains a preferred option, especially for non-irrigated land.

Farmers grow 81% of maize during the winter, mainly in the northern and southwestern districts.

Despite the increase in production, Bangladesh has to import maize to meet the domestic consumption needs of 38 lakh tons estimated for fiscal year 2016-17.

Imports of cereals are expected to increase by 28 percent to 10 lakh tons in FY 2017-18 for increased demand for feed mills and blending with wheat flour for human consumption , said.

The agency expects that total maize consumption will reach 41 lakh tons for fiscal year 2017-18.

"Consumption of maize is increasing for a variety of purposes, many people have it as popcorn, and it is also used to make flour," said a senior DAE official.

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