When makka sells cheaper than bhusa: Bihar’s maize growers suffer lockdown blues -Harish Damodaran

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published Published on Oct 30, 2020   modified Modified on Oct 30, 2020

-The Indian Express

Bihar produces a quarter of India's corn, but few politicians are talking about a crop that generates over Rs 7,500 crore annual income for its farmers.

Begusarai, Khagaria: “Makka hai das rupiah aur bhusa chaudah (maize is selling for Rs 10 and wheat straw for Rs 14)”. This statement by Chandrasekhar Kumar, a 15-bigha (13 acres) farmer from Sapaha village in Gogri block of Khagaria district, sums up the situation of Bihar’s most profitable, if not biggest, crop.

Kumar grows maize on 10, wheat on 3, mustard on 1, and fodder sorghum and barley on the remaining one bigha for his 10 buffaloes. The 45-year-old harvested 480 quintals of maize this May-June, more than last year’s 400 quintals. But the price he got from selling to a vyapari (village-level aggregator) was just Rs 950-1,000/quintal, as against Rs 1,700 the previous year.

Kumar is every inch a progressive farmer, as good as his counterparts in Punjab or Haryana. His corn yields, at 48 quintals per bigha or 55.2/acre, are even higher than the 200 bushel (50 quintals/acre) levels of farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. He mainly plants corn hybrids of Bayer Crop Science – including its newly launched ‘DKC-9188’ that is claimed to have better plant strength and delivers more uniform cobs with shinier and higher percentage of grains – and also uses the German multinational’s ‘Gaucho’ (a seed treatment chemical) and ‘Laudis’ (a post-emergence herbicide to control weeds). Even in wheat, he sows DCM Shriram Ltd’s ‘Super 303’ that gives up to 23 quintals/acre, compared to the 16-17 quintals from normal publicly-bred varieties.

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The Indian Express, 30 October, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/elections/when-makka-cheaper-than-bhusa-lockdown-effect-on-states-biggest-crop-6909201/

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