Maize is not gaining popularity among farmers in Punjab, despite the government’s drive to shift them from paddy. Farmers are resisting the Agriculture Department’s efforts to persuade them to cultivate maize as an alternate kharif crop. Low market price of maize, lack of government procurement, and difficulties in drying collected produce have made sowing of maize less profitable this season.
Even last year, the area under maize dropped down to 1.08 lakh hectares. The state government has set a goal of bringing 1.5 lakh hectares under the crop this year. Moreover, the market price is far less than the MSP and government has been found wanting in procuring maize from the farmers.
Currently, as spring maize begins to arrive in mandis, farmers are resenting the fact that their harvest is being sold for as little as a third of the MSP of Rs 1,850 per quintal. Because there is no government procurement, private players are only willing to pay between Rs 600 and Rs 850 per quintal, depending on the crop’s moisture content.
The state government is projecting maize as the finest alternative to paddy. But lack of government procurement at MSP has left maize farmers at the mercy of traders who are doling out very poor prices for maize all across the state.
Despite the fact that the central government has set the minimum support price for maize at Rs 1,850 this year, no agency in the state has purchased the crop. The crop began arriving at the local grain market a week ago.
The farmers claim that the central and state governments had urged them to diversify their crops and break out from the conventional wheat-paddy cycle, but that they were being denied MSP on most crops, including pulses and maize.
Despite efforts by the Punjab agricultural department to enhance maize cultivation and restrict paddy planting as part of a crop diversification plan, farmers are reluctant to choose maize because they incurred losses last year as well.