January 28, 2019
India ponders over importing DDGS to meet feed demand
India's animal feed sector has called for the import of distillers dried grains with soluble (DDGS) into the country after local maize yield were curtailed by the infestation of fall armyworms as well as low rainfall.
As a result, local maize prices had spiked to INR2,000 (US$28.20) a quintal, from INR1,100 (US$15.51) in October last year. Bringing in DDGS could help India mitigate a fodder shortage, but the cereal byproduct is obtained from genetically modified (GM) corn.
Raghavan Sampath Kumar, executive director at the Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers' Association of India, pointed out that GM corn would be cheaper compared to non-GM types. However, he stated that such imports should be for the short term and "not become a practice."
In the meantime, a sub-committee formed by India's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) is still considering a application to import DDGS into the country. The application, according to Sujata Arora, vice-chairperson of GEAC, has been deferred as the sub-committee plans to first meet up and come up with import guidelines.
As of today, India does not have a regulation to keep the entry of GM DDGS in check. The country also experienced a 50.2% deficiency in feed, a 2013 study by the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute highlighted.
The shortfall of feed had forced some farmers to raise cattle with vegetable peels and water in the feed, Ketul Patel, managing director of Miki Maize Milling, said.
"We have been requesting GEAC to import DDGS as this is a good feed supplement and the cost will be reduced to INR200-250 (US$2.83-3.52) per kilogramme. But the application has been kept on hold for more than two years now," Patel added.
Others opposed the move to import DDGS. Doing so at subsidised rates would not be fair to India's farmers, Rohit Parakj, a Mumbai-based food policy analyst claimed, pointing to a report that discovered a negative impact on the milk yield of animals fed on Bt cotton.
- The Hans India