In a significant development, World Bank’s lending arm International Finance Corporation has joined hands with the Agriculture Department to set up a task force on maize and poultry in the public-private partnership domain to develop them as marketable commodity.
The need for developing maize as a commodity, was felt in view of Bihar’s unique agricultural and climatic positioning which aids cultivation of the crop as rabi. The abundant availability of water helps in the production of over 17 lakh tons of maize, out of which one lakh tonne is consumed locally, mainly as raw material by the three poultry feed units operational in Muzaffarpur, Hajipur and Samastipur.
The task force, which has commenced its activities, is seriously mulling steps for the branding of Bihar maize. Once, this is done, it could be sold as ‘Bihar Contract’ on the commodity exchanges, both as spot and future trades, instead of the present system of being sold as Nizamabad (Andhra Pradesh) contract, said a member of the task force.
The identity crisis for Bihar’s rabi crop came up before the four member team, when the team members, comprising of Anil Jha of the Agriculture Department, Sudhansu Kumar, farmer, Sunil Chaudhary, chartered accountant and KPS Keshri, former president, BIA, embarked on a study tour to Mumbai, Ahmadabad and Unjha to gather market information, warehousing needs, value addition to the product, etc.
With the availability of abundant stock but lack of proper storage facility and availability of market locally, farmers have had to resort to distress selling to middlemen, who made a killing in places like Kolkatta. Last year, the situation had turned alarming with the Centre banning export of maize to control inflationary trends.