India, Asia's second-largest corn grower, could double its corn yields over the next decade, according to reports.

India's corn acreage currently ranks fifth highest in the world at more than 8 million hectares, though the country's yields are among the lowest, ranging from 1 to 4.5 metric tons per hectare. But according to the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India, the country could consume 30 million metric tons of corn by 2020, more than 50% claimed by the poultry industry. "There is tremendous room for improvement and given the focus on the crop, yields could go up 6 to 8 (metric tons per hectare) in the next 10 years," said Hardeep Grewal, Asia-Pacific head of corn marketing for agrochemicals firm Syngenta.

Advertisement

About half of India's corn area uses traditional cultivation methods, which produce only about 1 metric ton per hectare. The remaining area, which uses high-yield seeds, yields about 4.5 metric tons per hectare from winter-sown crop and between 2.5 and 3 metric tons per hectare from summer-sown crop, said Grewal. "So one-fourth of the corn area in India is supplying one-half of the total production...[that] shows you that Indian small farmers are adopting technologies very quickly when they are in the market economy, when they have the ability to access good quality seeds, when they have the ability to sell their grains and they have the ability to get access to agronomic information."

A combination of factors such as poor access to credit, agronomic information and markets has kept productivity low and prevented Indian farmers from taking advantage of a growing global demand for corn. "As India looks into the next 15 years at its protein requirements, for animal protein, particularly for poultry and eggs, the demand for animal feed will go up, the demand for corn will go up," said Grewal. "It's vital that productivity is increased."