November 1, 2019


India corn prices up despite easing of imports


The government's decision in June this year to allow the import of 100,000 tonnes of non-genetically-modified (non-GM) corn for feed use at a reduced 15% concessional duty, had little impact on domestic prices even as new kharif crop arrived, Financial Express reported.


Average mandi (markets) rate for corn is staying 4.7% above its minimum support price (MSP). The government has estimated kharif corn output at 19.89 million tonnes for 2019-20, nearly 5% higher than last season.


Non-GM corn is not available from most producing countries, except Ukraine.


"Normally, prices were down in mandis when arrivals of new crop start. But this year, maize rates may not come down in near future since there is no significant increase in production," said an industry expert.


Last kharif, the production of kharif maize was 19.04 million tonnes, which is nearly 2.5 million tonnes lower than the initial estimate after fall armyworm pest damaged corn crop across the country. Average mandi prices started rising from February 2019 and shot up to Rs 1,882/quintal (~US$0.27/kg; Rs 1 = US$0.014) in July from Rs 1,315/quintal during October 2018. This year, average mandi prices were Rs 1,842/quintal from October 1-30. It may be due to arrivals being 52% less year-on-year, according to agmarknet portal.


"Thankfully, fall armyworm did not appear as there were continuous rains until September. This is a very dangerous pest as once it goes inside the maize, no pesticide will be able to kill it," said Bhagirath Choudhary, founder-director of the New Delhi-based South Asia Biotechnology Centre.


The normal import duty on corn is 60%. "When there is no restriction on the import of soyabean oil on the basis of GM or non-GM, there should not be such a rule for maize when it is only for feed use," a poultry industry expert said. Currently, 60% of corn output goes to poultry and feed, while about 20% is consumed by starch manufacturers and the remaining 20% is for human consumption and seeds.