Maize is being traded for as much as Tk 30 per kilogramme (kg), the highest on record in Bangladesh, influenced by high international prices, a development that has created interest among many growers to expand cultivation of the grain, a key ingredient for poultry, cattle and fish feed.
As of January 6 this year, farmers planted maize on 3.77 lakh hectares of land, up 3.5 per cent from 3.64 lakh hectares as of January 3 in 2021, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
“Maize is a profitable crop now and we expect that the planting will exceed this year’s target,” said a senior DAE official.
Data regarding production and acreage varies between the DAE and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
And according to BBS, the country’s official statistical agency, Bangladesh produced 40.15 lakh tonnes of maize in fiscal year 2019-20, up 12 per cent from 35.69 lakh in the previous year.
Almost all the grains are used for making feed, which requires 75 to 80 lakh tonnes annually. Feed mills also import maize to meet their requirement.
Farmers and traders said maize prices hovered around Tk 17 to Tk 18 per kg at the wholesale level.However, prices shot up a couple of months after the harvest in 2021 in the wake of soaring international prices.
“It was fine at the harvest but prices began to rise later,” said Moshiur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council, citing that prices rose to Tk 25 per kg last June from Tk 18 to Tk 19 during the harvesting period.
Globally, maize prices rose to USD 264 per tonne in December 2021 from USD 248.7 the previous month, according to World Bank Commodities Price Data.Average prices of the grain surged 57 per cent year-on-year to USD 259 per tonne in 2021 from USD 165 per tonne, the data shows.
China stocked 25 per cent higher than its requirement of the grain, said Rahman, also managing director of Paragon Group.
China is expected to have 69 per cent of the globe’s maize reserves in the first half of crop year 2022, 60 per cent of its rice and 51 per cent of its wheat, reported Nikkei Asia by the end of December last year, citing the US Department of Agriculture.
Rahman said increased prices benefited growers who had stocks.
“It appears that cultivation will increase this year as farmers and stockists have not made profits at such a high margin,” he added.
Md Ihtesham B Shahjahan, president of the Feed Industries Association of Bangladesh, said the price of maize was Tk 30 per kg locally. Globally, prices stand at Tk 31 per kg, he said last week.
“Historically, prices have never reached this level before,” he added.