From the Co-ordinator’s desk

Maize is the second most important cereal crop of Nepal after rice and is used as food, feed, fodder and industrial raw material. Maize is grown under diverse agro-ecologies in the country. Development of high yielding hybrids and open pollinated varieties with resistance/tolerance to diseases, insects and other stresses are the major thrusts of the NMRP in Nepal. During the recent past, more than 30 open pollinated varieties and 3 hybrids have been developed and released. Rampur Composite in Terai and inner Terai; Arun-1 and Arun-2 in river basin areas; Manakamana-1, Deuti and Manakamana-3 in the middle hills; and Ganesh-1 and Ganesh-2 in the high hills are the few of the popular open pollinated varieties developed by NMRP. NMRP has developed and released Rampur Hybrid-2 for general cultivation during winter in Terai. It is also dedicated to develop the low cost, energy saving and resource use efficient crop management technologies in the country.
Of the total maize area, Terai occupies 17.34 %, mid hills 72.85 % and high hills 9.81 %. Availability of improved seed is still an issue, since the seed replacement rate of maize in Nepal is also low (11.3%). In Nepal, more than 80% of maize cultivation is under rainfed conditions. This puts a limit on productivity of the crop. In the hills, open pollinated varieties are grown and in Terai and foot hills where road and market access are in place, hybrids are being grown. In eastern and central Terai, multinational company hybrids are being grown during winter and the area under hybrid maize is increasing year after year.
There are tremendous opportunities to increase the maize production there by narrowing down the wider yield gap and horizontal expansion in winter season. Although maize yields increased slightly (0.5% per annum), the present level (2.458 Mt/ha) has not kept pace with the rapid growth of the population (1.35 per annum). Poultry industries need about 664,000 Mt of feed annually in the country where maize is a major source of it. Maize demand is increasing at the rate of 11% per annum in Nepal. To fulfill the growing demand of milk, meat and meat products, we are importing about 45% of maize to be used for feed from India.
The challenge is not only for the future population growth but also on present maize import substitution issue. This increase in production should obviously come from increase in the productivity rather than the area. The most critical factors to realize this would be enhancement and diversification of germplasm using modern tools and techniques, development of diverse and productive inbreds, stress (drought, heat and low nutrient etc.) resilient hybrids, development and fine-tuning of resource conservation techniques and to bring down cost of cultivation by enhancing resource use efficiency by maize.
Special efforts also needed to be given for the special purpose maize like quality protein maize, sweet corn, baby corn and pop corn.
NMRP, in collaboration with national and international stake holders, is involving in maize research and development to address the issues of food and nutritional security and livelihood of the people. Our efforts would be concentrated for benefits and livelihood improvement of Nepalese maize growers through modernizing maize R&D including development and deployment of improved maize germplasm, strengthening maize seed system, and intervention of agronomic management practices in various agro-ecologies.

Dr. Keshab Babu Koirala
National Maize Coordinator