Maize: A Multi- Purpose Food Crop
Maize a multi- purpose food crop is the world’s third crop behind wheat and rice. For food security it is necessary to enhance its production and utilization.
Maize: A multi- Purpose Crop
By Mohammed Arifeen
Maize is the world’s third crop leading behind wheat and rice. It is called “corn” and was first domesticated in Mesoamerica several thousand years ago. In sub- Saharan Africa, maize is a staple food crop for an estimated 50 percent of the population. It ranks first among the crop in the yield. Maize is easy to process, readily digested and cheaper than other cereals. Almost all part of the maize plant has economic value; the green leaves, stalk, tassel and cob can be used to produce a large variety of food and non-food products. It is an important source of carbohydrate, protein, iron, vitamin B and minerals. Maize has several advantages over wheat. Harvest is easier and it is less easily spoiled by moisture or wind. It is the only granular crop that which can be cultivated in hard and unfriendly climate. High temperature, low rainfall and even flood can do little damage to maize crop. It contributes significantly towards solving food problems and thereby plays its productive role in the agro-economy of the country.
In the year 2007 over 150 million hectares of maize were planted worldwide, with a yield of 4971 kilograms / hectare. The United States supplied more than 60 percent of world maize exports. In 2007-08, a quarter of the US maize-that was 11 percent of the world maize crop went into biofuel production. According to FAO, US the largest market for ethanol, used about 54 million tonnes of maize for biofuel and is estimated to have used 81.3 million tonnes in 2007-08.
Asia grows 30 percent of the maize world’s area. In terms of world acreage India stands only next to the USA, Brazil, China, Mexico and Argentina. Maize in India is an important cereal; both its area and production have steadily increased during the past 20 years. Indian maize has emerged as the most important crop after rice and wheat. Just seventeen years back maize was hardly known as a crop in Bangladesh. None was interested to utilize maize for commercial purpose. BRAC, the non-government organization in 1990 showed its enthusiasm and in 1992 they were the first one to introduce hybrid maize in the country. Initially they imported maize seed but later on in 1997 they started producing maize successfully with locally produced seeds. Between 1992 and 2007 maize has secured a third position as a major crop after rice and wheat. Due to somewhat favorable climate, rising demand in the human and livestock sector the experts are of the opinion that it is soon poised to occupy second position replacing wheat.