Nepal – Corn Import Market of $120 Million
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Corn cultivation is a way of life for most farmers in the hills of Nepal. It is a traditional crop cultivated as food, feed, and fodder on slopping Bari land (rainfed upland) in the hills. It is grown under rainfed conditions during the summer (April-August) as a single crop or relayed with millet later in the season. In the terai, inner-terai, valleys, and low-lying river basin areas, Corn is also grown in the winter and spring with irrigation. Concentration is around the Terai region during the winter and spring.
The crop grows during the monsoon season in South Asia and is mainly imported into the capital city from India. Annually, Nepal imports around $100 million worth of Corn from India. Other countries from which Corn is imported include Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, and the United States. In 2020, Nepal imported Corn worth $121 million, becoming the 53rd most significant importer of Corn in the world. In the same year, Corn was Nepal’s 10th most imported product. Nepal imports Corn primarily from: India ($114 million), Argentina ($2.87 million), Brazil ($1.36 million), Ukraine ($1.35 million), and Burma ($762k).
According to different research journals, proliferating feed factories encouraged farmers to grow Corn commercially. But still, a large amount of Corn is imported from India to meet the demand of the feed industry as the local Corn variety has low productivity. As per the journal Corn Research and Development 2015, published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, the poultry industry needs about 664,000 tons of feed annually. Corn is a primary raw material for the production of poultry feed.
Corn demand is increasing at a rate of 11 percent annually in Nepal. To fulfill the growing demand for milk, meat, and meat products, the country imports about 45 percent of its requirement of Corn from India, the journal said. Corn is a traditional crop grown for food, feed, and fodder. According to the journal, the per capita Corn consumption in Nepal is 98 gm per day. At this rate, the total Corn requirement for food per year is around 3 million tons.
Nepali Hybrid Corn Seed
Mitra Raj Dawadi, former President of the Seed Entrepreneurs’ Association, said that the country imports over 2,000 tons of hybrid Corn seeds annually. Nepal’s average Corn yield is 2.67 tons per hectare, one of the lowest in South Asia. The productivity of Rampur-10 is 7 tons per hectare in irrigated conditions, Dawadi said. This new variety has been recommended for the Tarai and Inner Tarai or up to 700 meters above sea level.
In Nepal, the reasons for low Corn yield are high temperature, drought, stalk rot infestation, high input rates, and low quality and substandard seeds. Heat and drought stress emerged as common problems which can reduce Corn crop productivity. Heat stress in the flowering and grain filling periods due to elevated temperatures drastically affect crop productivity.
The National Corn Research Program first developed a hybrid variety of Corn called Gaurab in 2003. But its commercial production could not flourish. According to Keshab Babu Koirala, Chief of the National Corn Crop Research Program, Corn is cultivated on 954,000 hectares across the country, and most farmers plant hybrid seeds imported from India.
Koirala said that other companies like Maharani Joda Agricultural Cooperative, Gorkha Seeds, Lumbini Seeds, Unique Seeds, and Panchashakti Seeds of Jhapa also started commercial production of Rampur-10. “It’s a good sign that Nepali firms started producing seeds. This will help Nepal to be self-sufficient in its hybrid variety. Now such problems will not occur as Nepali hybrid seed is heat stress resilient,” he added. Rampur also developed a hybrid Khumaltar-2 suitable for hilly areas.
Other sources: KATHMAN POST
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