The Punjab government would install 5 units of Maize dryer Centres at a cost of Rs. 8 crore in the state to promote Maize as an alternate crop for Paddy.Disclosing this here today Tota Singh Agriculture Minister Punjab said that out of the 5 proposed units three have already been set up at Phulgana (Hoshiarpur) Bhogpur and Nakodar. The units at Kapurthala and Macchiwara would be set up shortly.The minister also said the Punjab government has already installed two maize dryer plants - at Hoshiarpur and Nawan Sehar districts at Rs 19.27 crore - to dry maize according to international parameters. By using this facility, farmers could get better remuneration as high moisture content depletes the shelf life of maize. The sectors using maize (starch manufacturers and poultry) require maize with 12 per cent moisture. The two dryers in the state were inadequate as the cost of transportation to the facility adds to the farmers' costs.
Pointing out further, the Minister said that Maize prices have increased in the past few years as demand has been rising but quality product was not available. This initiative of the state government might encourage farmers to bring more area under maize cultivation.The agriculture minister also demanded that the Union government fix Rs 1,815 a quintal as the minimum support price (MSP) for maize to develop it as an alternative crop to paddy in the state. He also demanded 100 per cent procurement of maize by the Centre on MSP.Elaborating on the persification programme being carried out by the department, he said the area under maize crop has seen an increase this year. He appealed to the farmers to actively participate in the agriculture camps organised by the department to tap new technologies and derive maximum benefit out of these camps.