STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 28th Feb: Expressing surprise over Manipur lagging behind in maize production in-spite of the state having suitable soil and climatic condition for the cultivation of the food crop, ICAR NEH (Umiam) director Dr N Prakash has said that the state’s economy could improve a lot in case the farmers could be convinced to take maize cultivation seriously.
Speaking as the chief guest during inauguration of a one-day regional workshop on ‘Maize for north-east: Emerging Trends and Technology’ at ICAR Lamphelpat complex here on Wednesday, Dr Prakash highlighted that maize is the second most widely cultivated crop after paddy in the north-east region, including Manipur.
Even though maize has tremendous potential for generation of additional income of the local farmers if the area of plantation could be expanded such assets remain utilised, he noted, while stressing that officials and experts of the department concerned need to find out the reason for maize plantation yet to attract the farmers’ attention.
While healthy growth and yield are clear testimonies that soil and climatic condition in Manipur is favourable for growing maize on a commercial scale, the farmers need to be made aware that maize could be turned into a cash crop only if the area of plantation is expanded, the director said.
Further stating that the market for maize has been growing exponentially on account of increasing demand as fodder for livestock farming, which are mainly based on maize and its by-products, he called upon ICAR researchers to convince the state farmers on the need for adopting advanced technology for maize cultivation.
In his address as the functional president, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Manipur joint director in-charge Dr I Meghachandra expressed concerned over possibility of gradual disappearance of native maize varieties known in local parlance as Chak-hao (sticky) and Khongjai Chujak due to lack of interest among the farmers.
The technical session had Dr Meghachandra elaborating/presenting papers on the topics ‘Opportunities of seed production of maize in NEH region’, Dr MA Ansari on ‘Significance of sweet corn and baby corn in North East India: Challenges and opportunities’, Dr N Arati and Dr SK Sharma on ‘Practices of integrated pest and disease management in maize’, Dr Blessa Sailo and Ch Sonia on ‘Significance of maize grain for livestock feed and maize fodder production under hydroponic’ and Dr Punitha P on ‘Entrepreneurship development for promotion of maize and its value added products for increasing the income of farmers: Overview’.
The regional workshop was jointly organised by ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur Centre and ICAR - Indian Institute of Maize Research, PAU campus, Ludhiana.
As a part of the event, dignitaries present also distributed inputs to select farmers.