Enthused with spike in maize production in four districts of southern Rajasthan, the agriculture dept now plans to increase the sowing area for the crop next season. The move, if implemented systematically, will improve the income of tribals, said agriculture minister Prabhu Lal Saini.
“Although maize is a kharif crop, it is grown successfully during the rabi season in Dungarpur, Banswara, Pratapgarh and Udaipur districts. Earlier, the tribals grew maize in small quantity during the rabi season for personal consumption, but over the last two three years, the area of sowing has been increased,” Saini said.
“During 2015-16, maize covered more than 22,000 hectares, which further increased to 50,000 hectares in 2016-17,” Saini told HT.
The department is planning to encourage more farmers to sow maize during the rabi season as the yield, during this time of the year, was found to be better than the kharif season.
A new variety of hybrid seed has also been developed by Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology in Udaipur that yields high quality protein-infused crop in 85-100 days.
“The tribals will benefit from the high-protein varieties. It will help them fight malnutrition if they consume it daily. The department now plans to extend sowing area to 1 lakh hectares during the next rabi season. Efforts will be made to set up processing units in the four districts for churning out corn oil, corn flakes and popcorn,” Saini added.
The maize plant can be used in a number of ways. While the grain is used in livestock feed, bakery products and medicines, the seed; shank can be used to manufacture chemicals and the husk can roots can be used as firewood.