Boosting maize production critical for food security in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Boosting maize production critical for food security in Pakistan, WealthPK reported on Sunday.
Maize is critical to ensuring food security for Pakistan. Besides being an important source of livestock feed, maize is used for producing different products for human consumption as the grain contains high energy and low fibers.
Products made from this grain are extensively traded agricultural commodities among the countries, WealthPK reported.
Worldwide, 1,118 million tonnes of maize was produced in 2020.
The major maize-producing countries are the United States, China, and Brazil, with the US accounting for 36% of the global exports.
After rice and wheat, maize is the third major cereal crop in Pakistan. With the increase in population, the demand for grain has also increased in Pakistan, which produced 8.5 million tons of cereal in 2021, accounting for 3.4% of the total value added in the agriculture sector.
According to Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, almost 60% of maize is used for poultry feed, 28% for wet milling, and 6% for making food products. However, maize production per hectare in Pakistan is lower than the world over as the country can only produce 3.2 tons per hectare.
According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), an online data visualisation and distribution platform focused on the geography and dynamics of economic activities, Pakistan’s total export of maize was 0.6 million tons, valued at $12 million.
The total area under maize cultivation is 1.42 million hectares, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey (2021-22), with almost 66% of grain produced through irrigation.
Unpredictable weather patterns and a lack of climate-resilient seed result in almost two tonnes reduction per acre.
According to data from Crop Reporting Service, the land under maize cultivation is declining in Pakistan, which also faces a shortage of certified seed varieties.
Lack of education prevents growers from switching over to modern farming techniques, thus affecting their per acre yield, WealthPK reported.
According to the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), which works to improve people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment, farmers can get the benefits of the mechanised cob picker technology that improves efficiency by 50%.
The high prices of inputs like seed, pesticides, and fertilisers increase the production cost. According to Pakistan Cereal Association chairman Muzammil Chappal, Pakistan’s maize grain gets lower prices in the international market than the other countries. He wants the government to support the research and development of maize seed varieties like hybrid and genetically modified ones that are most suitable to the country’s climate.
“Input supports such as subsidies on fertilisers, seeds, and farm machinery will result in positive changes in production and farm income. Due to a sharp increase in population and sub-division of farms the land is sharply decreasing, which needs to be stopped. The government should formulate a policy for small farmers to help them increase their yields.”