Cultivating Maize can be a game changer

‘It is adaptable, consumes less water and fetches a handsome return for the grower’
Hybrid maize can supplant traditional paddy crop in the core kuruvai season in the Cauvery delta regions in times of water scarcity or delayed opening of Mettur dam.
Cultivating maize as an alternative to kuruvai paddy can be a potential game changer for the farmers to get considerable income in a short span of time, reveals a field study and research carried out by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
The pilot programme was conducted as part of the World Bank funded Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation Programme (TNIAMP).
Delta farmers in the State are facing water scarcity, especially during the kuruvai cropping season and most of them have to solely rely on Cauvery water which is released from Mettur dam. In the past several years, those farmers who do not have access to sub-surface water had to leave the land fallow during the kuruvai season due to water scarcity.
The TNAU was seized of the issues confronting delta farmers before coming up with maize and pulses as suitable alternatives to paddy in the kuruvai season. The ideas were put to field test by introducing hybrid maize as alternative crop to paddy on 300 acres equally distributed in Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts.
A total of 167 farmers came forward to undertake the pilot project under the TNIAMP.
World Bank funding
The World Bank provided Rs. 86 crore to the TNAU with an objective to promote climate resilient and market-led agriculture in 66 sub basins of Tamil Nadu and maize was selected for the Cauvery delta region.
“Maize is adaptable to growing environment, is less water consuming and relatively not affected by pest and disease besides fetching a handsome return for the grower. The TNAU took up the initiative to raise maize as an alternative to kuruvai paddy in the Cauvery delta. Private companies supplied hybrid maize to farmers, the TNAU imparted technical guidance while the Broiler Coordination Committee, Palladam, assured market for the cultivated maize,” explained B. J. Pandian, Director, Water Technology Centre and Nodal Officer, TNIAMP.
It is planned to demonstrate maize as an alternative to kuruvai paddy on a larger scale and it is also part of implementing water saving technologies, over the next six years, for which the World Bank has allotted Rs. 10 crore to the Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute, Aduthurai, it’s director V. Ravi said.
While farmers in Thanjavur district waited for the hybrid maize to mature and supplied the produce to poultry units, those in Manalmedu region of Nagapattinam district harvested the fresh green cobs and sold them, in just three quarters of the normal cultivation period.
Source: The Hindu