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Kerala Encourages for Maize Cultivation to Increase Dairy Productivity, Control Fodder Prices

Over the last few decades, maize has become the most important forage component in dairy rationing. Therefore, encouraging maize cultivation is ideal for increasing dairy production while controlling fodder prices.

Shivam Dwivedi
Promoting maize cultivation is ideal for increasing dairy production
Promoting maize cultivation is ideal for increasing dairy production

Although maize is not a common crop in Kerala, the Animal Husbandry department is considering expanding its cultivation to more areas in order to produce low-cost fodder. Maize is a staple ruminant feed and its quality can have a significant impact on milk yield and composition.

The raw material, a major component of cattle feed, is sourced by Kerala from other states, and dairy farmers are concerned about the recent price increase. Following the success of a pilot project, the department is now attempting to popularise maize cultivation, and Kerala Feeds Limited (KFL) will offer a price above the market rate to procure the crop.

"Because we do not produce soyabean and maize, we are completely reliant on other states for raw materials. Despite being an important cereal crop, we were unsure whether large-scale maize cultivation was feasible in Kerala. We started farming on five acres of land in Muthalamada, Palakkad, as an experiment, and it was a success.

"We are currently identifying plots across the State to cultivate the crop, and quality seeds will be made available to farmers through the KFL," said J. Chinchurani, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development.

Until recently, Kerala's climate was thought to be unsuitable for maize cultivation. "At the moment, we are conducting an intensive campaign to promote maize cultivation because it is ideal for increasing dairy production and controlling fodder prices. Furthermore, the department has been promoting fodder grass cultivation in various districts by providing farmers with a 16,000 subsidy for establishing one-acre units. To address the current crisis, we are also offering silage at subsidised rates," she adds.

While the Institute of Maize Research (IIMR) in Ludhiana will provide technical assistance for the project, the KFL will directly purchase the crop at a price higher than the current market price. "At the moment, the KFL spends around 500 crore per year on raw material from states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh." We are creating a market for our farmers and the KFL to purchase any quantity of maize because demand is always high. "Even middle and small-scale farmers can begin cultivation because they can feed maize stalks to their cows to increase milk production," says B. Sreekumar, Managing Director of KFL.

While a hybrid variety, CO(H)M8, was used at Muthalamada, farmers will be given high-yielding seeds based on soil quality and other factors. "A five-acre farm will yield around 15 tonnes." Farmers can maintain this output with proper care. Around 25 farmers from different parts of the state have already approached us, and we will be providing seed varieties recommended by the IIMR at reduced rates," Sreekumar adds.

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