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Data: While production has increased, exports of Maize & other Cereals still lower than in 2012-13

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In the second part of this series on India’s foodgrain production & exports, we analyse data related to Maize, other Cereals & Pulses. Data indicates that while the production of Maize has significantly increased in the last 10 years, exports are still lower than in 2012-13.

In the first story of this two-part series, we analysed the trends in the production & export of Rice & Wheat.  In this second part, we look at the trends in the production and export of other food grains including Maize, Jowar, millets, pulses, etc. 

As in the first story, the data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare’s ‘Third Advance Estimates of Production of Food Grains’ in considered for food grain production numbers while we relied on the data available with APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) for the information related to exports of these food grains. 

Around 50% increase in Annual Production of Maize during the 10-year period 

Maize is the third-largest food grains crop grown in the country after rice & wheat. Globally, India ranks among the top-10 countries in the production of Maize and contributes to around 2% of the global production. India ranks among the top-5 in terms of the land utilized for the cultivation of maize with about 4% of the world’s area in maize production. 

Within India, Maize accounts for approximately 2% of the total value of Agricultural crops output. The production of Maize is concentrated in a few states of India. The four states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh constitute nearly half of the total area under maize production in the country. 

In terms of production, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan & Bihar contribute to around 2/3rd of the total maize production in the country. Over the past 10 years (2012-13 to 2021-22), there has been a fluctuating trend in the production of Maize. Multiple periods of increased production were interspersed with periods of fall in the production. 

Over the past two years, there is a consistent growth in annual production.  In 2020-21, there was a 10% increase in the annual production of maize with 31.65 million Tonnes of production. For 2021-22, the target was set at 30.9 million tonnes. The third Advance estimates indicate production of 33.19 million tonnes, the highest during the 10-year period. Overall, during the 10-year period, the annual production of Maize increased from 22.26 million tonnes in 2012-13 to 33.18 million tonnes in 2021-22 i.e., an increase of roughly 50%. 

While the overall production of Maize has increased, productivity remains a challenge compared to global standards. This is evident from the fact that India ranks 4th in the total land used for Maize but ranks around 7th in production volume. The average productivity in India is estimated at around 2.6 tonnes/hectare while in the USA, it is 10.7 and the global average is 5.6 tonnes/hectare.

Despite the increase in recent years, Maize exports are still lower than in 2012-13 

India’s Maize exports form an insignificant share of the global exports. The USA is the World’s largest exporter and contributes around 40% of the Global Exports. Within India, a significant part i.e., 2/3rd of the production of Maize is consumed domestically. Around 60% of the consumption is in the form of feed for Poultry & Livestock. 

The quality of Maize being produced vis-a-vis international standards and the prices being higher than the international rate are some of the challenges with the export of Maize. Nevertheless, India exports Maize to around 60 countries with a steady increase in the number of countries in recent years. 

A major chunk of the exports is to Bangladesh, Nepal, and a few South-East Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. In 2020-21, 54% of India’s export of Maize was to Bangladesh. In that year, India exported 2.87 million tonnes of Maize, worth 0.63 billion USD. As per information on APEDA, India has exported 3.42 million tonnes during the first 11 months (April-February) of 2021-22, worth 0.93 billion USD. 

While there is an increasing trend in the last two years, both the volume & value of exports are still lower than in 2012-13. In 2012-13, a total of 4.78 million tonnes of maize was exported, worth 1.31 billion USD. Since then, the exports have remained low until the recent two years. 

A significant drop in the Exports of Other Cereals over the last few years 

Apart from the three major cereals of Rice, Wheat & Maize, India also produces a few other cereals in sizeable volumes. Most of these cereals are less water-intensive crops and are referred to as dryland crops since they can be grown in areas with even 50-100 cm rainfall. They are also less sensitive to soil deficiencies and can grow in inferior soils. 

A major category of these other cereals includes Millets, also referred to as Nutri-Cereals. These include Jowar, Bajra, Ragi & other minor millets. Barley is one of the other cereals which is categorized as coarse cereal along with Maize.  

The third advanced estimates for 2022-23 indicate that the production could miss the initial targets across all these cereals. Here is a snapshot of the production trends of these other Cereals. 

  • Bajra: It is the fourth most-produced cereal after rice, wheat & maize. Rajasthan accounts for most of the production, followed by U.P & Haryana. In 2020-21, 10.86 million tonnes of Bajra were produced in the country. The trend has fluctuated over the last ten years. In 2021-22, a target of 10.5 million tonnes was set, but the recent third advanced estimates indicate a production of only 9.42 million tonnes. 
  • Jowar: In India, Jowar is grown both as a Kharif and a Rabi crop. Maharashtra & Karnataka have the highest share of Jowar production in the country, followed by Tamil Nadu & Rajasthan. Against a target of 5.1 million tonnes for 2021-22, advance estimates indicate a production of 4.5 million tonnes. In 2012-13, the production of Jowar was over 5 million tonnes, which has reduced over the years. 
  • Ragi: Ragi aka Finger Millet is grown majorly in Karnataka followed by Tamil Nadu & A.P. As is the case of Bajra & Jowar, the trends indicate a fall over the years with a recent recovery. However, the advanced estimates for 2021-22 show a production of 1.64 metric tonnes as against the yearly target of 1.9 metric tonnes. 
  • Barley: Barley is not considered part of the Nutri-Cereals group. The production trends have largely remained unchanged over the 10-year period. It is grown as a rain-fed crop in water-scarce areas, and in states of U.P, Rajasthan, M.P, Bihar, etc. 

While the production trends have fluctuated over the years for these other cereals, the trends in export show a distinct fall.  APEDA categorizes all cereals other than Rice, Wheat, Maize, etc. under a single head “Other Cereals”.  During 2012-13, 0.65 million tonnes of ‘Other Cereals’ were exported. It remained nearly the same in the next two years. However, there was a major fall in 2015-16 to 0.26 million tonnes, which continued to decline barring an exception in 2018-19 with 0.22 million tonnes. The exports for the first 11 months of 2021-22 are at 0.14 million tonnes. 

UAE, Nepal & Saudi Arabia are the major export destinations for these other cereals. The fall in the volume of exports to these countries is reflected in the overall fall in exports of other cereals. Iran & Jordan were among the countries to whom a major portion was exported prior to 2015-16. 

Production of Pulses increased by more than 50% in the last 10 years 

A few of the major Pulses produced in India include Tur, Urad, Moong, Gram, Lentil, etc. In 2020-21, 25.46 million tonnes of pulses were produced in the country. The third advance estimates peg the annual production of pulses to cross the target of 25 million tonnes with an estimated 27.76 million tonnes. 

Over the 10-year period (2012-13 to 2021-22), there has been an increase in the annual production of the pulses by about 51%.  During this period, the first major growth was witnessed in 2016-17 when 23.13 million tonnes were produced compared to 16.32 tonnes in the previous year. The increase can be attributed to an increase in the production of Gram & Tur dal. In the subsequent years, while the production of Tur Dal has remained constant at this level, the production of Gram has recorded a year-on-year increase, barring an exception in 2018-19. 

India is the largest producer of Pulses in the world. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, UP & Karnataka are the top-5 pulse-producing states. However, India also happens to be the largest consumer of pulses in the world. While India contributes to 25% of the global production of pulses, its share of global consumption of pulses is 27%. 

In fact, India compensates for its demand for pulses through imports. India is also the largest importer of pulses with 14% of the global imports. This is also reflected in the lower share of exports of pulses compared to the production in the country. 

A total of 0.29 million tonnes of pulses worth 0.28 billion USD were exported in 2020-21. The exports during the first 11 months of 2021-22 are already at 0.36 million tonnes, the highest in the past 10 years. The USA, China, Nepal & UAE are the leading export destinations for pulses in India. 

Featured Image: India’s food grain production & exports

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