In a major breakthrough in agricultural practices, Kerala Feeds Limited (KFL) found success in its efforts to grow maize within Kerala as a major ingredient of its key product, as the PSU facilitated the production of five tonnes of the cereal which were brought in to its manufacturing unit from a farm 18 km away.
A steep rise in the recent prices of maize prompted Kallettumkara-headquartered KFL to encourage local farmers to raise the crop, which is largely grown in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Of late, the PSU facilitated them training classes by experts from the Indian Institute of Maize Research (IIMR) headquartered in Delhi. The efforts paid off, as C.A. Rajan of Annamanada in this district initiated maize cultivation in his three-and-a-half-acre field, otherwise used to grow paddy.
KFL provided the farmer with high-yielding seeds and technological support. “There were practical hiccups since it was my debut venture,” says Rajan, a retired government employee. “Yet the effort for growing maize is lesser compared to that goes into paddy cultivation.”
Into 60 days of growth, the maize began flowering. Rajan did the harvesting on his own, and dried the crop at the compound of his house. Assistance came from Rajan’s wife Ambika and children Arun and Ashik. “The stem of the maize is good fodder for cattle,” he points out. “That gives us extra income.”
As five tonnes of maize were brought from Rajan’s field to the PSU in Kallettumkara near Irinjalakuda on Tuesday evening, KFL Chairman K. Sreekumar and top colleagues besides representatives of the employees’ unions accorded an enthusiastic reception to the first load that arrived at the manufacturing plant.
Sreekumar noted that both dairyists and farmers can better their income resources by growing maize, which doesn’t involve high cost. “KFL will go for discussions aimed at enabling growing maize in open fallow lands. It can be carried out through the district panchayats under their annual schemes,” he said.
KFL requires a monthly input of 6,000 tonnes of maize. “Not that we can grow the whole of it in Kerala. But good efforts in this direction can check the price of the KFL products considerably,” the Chairman said.
KFL Managing Director Dr B. Sreekumar said the PSU sought ways to grow maize indigenously when the price of the crop began going through the roofs. “Our earnestness shows in our moves to rope in the services of an institute as big as the IIMR,” he said. “We are holding discussions to broaden the cultivation of maize to other areas of the state.”
Those farmers going for two paddy crops a year are being encouraged by KFL to go for maize cultivation. As they would be given high-yielding seeds and technological support, the PSU expects more farmers like Rajan to enter maize farming.
The 1995-founded KFL manufacturers products for various breeds of cows with the aim of keeping them in good health as well as better productivity and quality of milk.