The poultry industry, which depends on maize supply as it is a key ingredient in feed, has been feeling pinch because of spurt in the prices.
According to Poultry Federation of India (PFI), the wholesale maize prices in Delhi has increased to Rs 11,000 per tonne from Rs 9,400 per tonne in the last two months, an increase of 17%.
Poultry feed prices, which is a mixture corn and soybean meal has also increased to Rs 19,000 per tonne from Rs 16,500 per tonne in the last two months, an increase of 15%.
The current spurt in the corn prices is because of lower supplies from key growing states like Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, Ricky Thapar, Treasurer, PFI told FE.
Terming the rise in maize prices as temporary, an official with Directorate of Maize Research (DMR), under Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) said due to decline in paddy sowing because of deficient rainfall in many parts of the country, farmers have sown maize as alternate crop because it is less water intensive and the supplies would improve over the next few months.
Kharif maize production constitutes about 80% of the total maize output estimated at 18.48 million tonne during 2008-9. The prices have been rising because of spurt in demand from the poultry industry and the production is expected to rise this year, Sain Dass, project director, DMR said.
According to an estimate, around 60% of the maize output in the country is used as poultry and cattle feed, while 12% is used by the starch industry.
Nearly 22% of maize produced in the country is being used for human consumption, which has seen a rapid growth during last few years.
Due rise in poultry feed, the prices of broiler chicken and eggs are expected go up just prior to festivals seasons. Although farmers have not hiked broiler prices but if the feed prices do not decline soon, the prices are expected to rise, Thapar of PFI said. Due to rising demand from the industry, many farmers in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have shifted to maize cultivation from other coarse grains like jowar and bajra because of lucrative returns.
Meanwhile, according to the latest data from the agriculture ministry, maize area during the current kharif sowing has been estimated at around 6.8 million hectares till August 20, 2009, up from around 6.7 million hectares reported during the same period last year.