Dairy At Glance
Drought pushes up jowar, maize pric

Drought pushes up jowar, maize prices; losses for poultry units
Industry bodies have opened talks with the government given that imports at present would attract a steep duty of 60 per cent.
Like most other agricultural commodities, wholesale prices of jowar (sorghum) and maize for the most part of 2018 were much below their government-mandated Minimum Support Price (MSP). In what could signal a reversal of change, both are now trading well above their MSP as the ongoing drought takes a toll on production. In the case of maize — the third most important cereal in the country — the scarcity has led to calls for relaxation of tariff duty for imports.
Grown extensively across the country, maize is only the third most important cereal after rice and wheat for India. The annual consumption figure is estimated to be 220 lakh tonnes (lt), with poultry (as chicken feed) and starch industry alone cornering 70 per cent of it. India also exports around 7 lt of maize annually to countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
While it is mainly a Kharif crop in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana, growers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh also sow the crop during the rabi season.
For the 2018 Kharif season, Maharashtra reported 8.16 lakh hectares of maize plantation as against the normal 7.36 lakh hectares. Sowing, however, has taken a hit during the rabi season with the state reporting just about 1.15 lakh hectares of maize as against the normal 2.25 lakh hectares.
Across the country, industry estimates talk about an 8-10 per cent dip in availability of maize. Other than the drought, in Maharashtra, the dip in rabi area is also due to the low realisations in wholesale markets, which have weaned many farmers away from the crop.
Correspondingly, wholesale prices of maize have seen a positive move, with the average trade price of Rs 1,723.47 per quintal in the state being above the mandated MSP of Rs 1,700. In fact, this would be the first time prices have crossed the MSP in the last one year. Between September and November, when arrivals peaked due to the new crop, prices were in the range of Rs 1,200-1,300 per quintal. The present upward mobility in prices, industry sources point out, is only to be enjoyed by stockists who have raised inventories during the last few months. All eyes are on the rabi crop of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which is to hit the markets by April.
Rohit Pawar, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pune-based poultry firm Baramati Agro Limited, said the present Rs 2,000 per quintal rate has increased the cost of production for all poultry farmers. “The effects will be soon seen in retail prices of chicken,” he said.
Industry bodies have opened talks with the government given that imports at present would attract a steep duty of 60 per cent. Import of maize is governed by tariff rate quota norms, which require government intervention for easing of duty.
Prasanna Pedgaonkar, the Deputy General Manager of Pune-based poultry firm Venkateshwara Hatcheries Private Limited — popularly known as Venky’s — said the industry had asked for phase-wise import of around 20 lt of corn, but the government is yet to consent to it. “It would be three years since the last imports of maize in the country,” he said.
But with general elections round the corner, chances of imports seem dim given the effect it might have on prices.
Like maize, the reversal in the price trend of jowar has much to do with the dip in sown area reported in Maharashtra. An important millet, especially for rural parts of the state, Maharashtra reports around 30.98 lakh hectares of jowar sowing, 23.79 hectares from rabi season alone. This year, till January 25, the state had reported 12.46 lakh hectares of sowing — an almost 50 per cent dip.
Accounting for around 30 per cent of the national production, Maharashtra is the largest producer of the millet in the country.
In tandem with the dip in sowing, wholesale prices of jowar in the state have started rising. The average traded price of jowar now stands at Rs 2987.05 — a whopping Rs 500 per quintal above the mandated MSP of Rs 2,450 per quintal for maldandi and Rs 2,430 per quintal for hybrid jowar. Prices have risen 14.68 per cent since December, with trade sources talking of a further rise.
Amit Wadikar, a trader operating out of Baramati’s wholesale market, reasoned that the present price hike is mostly to do with the dip in the rabi crop due to drought. “Other than Solapur, Ahmednagar, a similar drop has been reported from neighbouring Karnataka,” he pointed out.
At the Baramati market, prices have been averaging around Rs 3,800 per quintal mark. Prices however were much below the MSP threshold, with the state reporting prices in the range of Rs 2,200- 2,300 per quintal, in the months of September, October. It was only since November, when the effects of drought became clearer, that prices have firmed up.
Besides, jowar and maize are also an important source of green fodder for animals, giving the farmers an extra source of income. With fodder scarcity looming large over the state, the farmer is faced with a double loss. Ankush Padvale, a farmer from Khupsangi in Solapur’s Mangalwedha taluka, lost 5 acres of his rabi jowar due to moisture stress, he says. “There was no water for the corp to grow, my investment was in vain.”
Noting the bull run in the jowar prices, Padvale says it comes at a time when farmers like him have no crop to sell.
(Source: https://indianexpress.com)