Govt has to ensure increased corn acreage to meet 20 per cent ethanol blending target

to achieve 20% ethanol blending target by 2025it is necessary to half ethanol Production comes from grain-based plants. Gyanendra Shukla, Chairman of the Maize Committee of the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), said that given the current constraints on the availability of single hybrid variety, increasing the area appeared to be the most viable solution. He added that only a comprehensive policy on corn could help boost productivity in the medium to long term.

Increasing the yield by one ton per hectare means a lot because maize is grown on more than 10 million hectares. Shukla said that if the current average yield of 3 tons per hectare is raised to 4 tons/ha, the production can reach 45 million tons against the current production of 35 million tons.

“Technically, it is possible. But, it can be achieved in two years,” Shukla said.

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Highlighting that the area under maize has grown from 6 million hectares (mh) to 10 mh in the past 10-15 years due to better prices, he said that similar to rice and wheat, maize should be bought when there is a sudden glut.

“This is a crop where there is no price support. If there is price support in the form of MSP, farmers will quickly switch to corn,” said Shukla, who is also CEO of JK Agri Genetics.

Union Agriculture Minister Manoj Ahuja said this last month Maize production should be raised to 44-45 metric tons In the next five years from 33-34 metric tons to meet the growing demand for ethanol and poultry industry.

According to the second advance estimate, maize production in the 2022-23 agricultural year (July-June) is expected to reach 34.61 metric tons, compared to 33.73 metric tons in the previous year.

Grain requirements have been pegged at 20 percent of ethanol blending requirements at a rate of 16.5 metric tons per year.

It doesn’t take a lot of space to produce the extra 10 million tons of maize, Shukla said, adding that the only thing needed is “what are we willing to give up and how are we going to support farmers when they produce this crop.”

As far as the seed industry is concerned, it can quickly ramp up production and meet demand because it always plans one season ahead.

“Seeds are something companies have to invest a lot in. Therefore, a very clear comprehensive plan is needed from the government to introduce price support and infrastructure development.

Earlier this month, Food Minister Sanjeev Chopra said so There is a limit to increasing sugarcane production Half of the ethanol requirement must come from grain-based plants. He added that sugar has its limitations, and that grain-based plants, which benefit from subsidized rice provided by Food Corporation of India (FCI), are not a sustainable feedstock for ethanol. Therefore, the focus has now shifted to the atom.

Currently, India has the capacity to produce 1,082 crore liters of ethanol (including plants under construction). Of this capacity, 723 crore liters come from molasses-based units and 359 crore liters from grain-based plants.

While about 1016 crore liters of ethanol is needed to meet the 20 per cent blending target, about 334 crore liters of ethanol is needed for other uses. For this, around 1,700 crore liters of ethanol production capacity would be required given that the plants are running at 80 per cent efficiency.