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“Food, Nutritional and Livelihood security through

Single Cross Hybrid Maize production in NER: an

experience of convergence”
‘To the hungry, God is bread; the God of bread should prevail in every home and hut of
the country’. - Mahatma Gandhi (Naokhali in 1946)
Food security means “access by all people at all time to enough food for an active
and healthy life” (World Bank, 1986). It entails both the availability of food and ability of
all members of the society to have access to adequate amounts of food. But only adequate
amount of food is not sufficient unless it does not assure the supply of all the essential
nutrients in required quantity. The availability of balance food assures nutritional
security. Whereas livelihood security refers to adequate and substantial access to income
and resources to meet the basic needs. The basic needs include adequate access to food,
potable drinking water, health facilities, educational opportunities, housing and time for
community participation and social integration. Food security is directly related to
livelihood security of a household as household income increases the percentage of
income on food expense decreases (Engel’s law).
Agriculture sector in north eastern region (NER) provides livelihood to almost
84% population but it accounts for only 30% of Net State Domestic Product (NSDP).
Contribution of this region to national food grain production is hardly 1.5%, which is
insufficient to sustain 3.8 percent of country’s population. Though agriculture in NER
grew at a much higher rate (3.8 per cent) than the average for the country (0.6 per cent)
between 1993-94 and 2002-03 but still the region has to import food grains for its
consumption. The meat production per head (1.3 kg) is higher than the national average
(0.93 kg) but still region imports meat and other animal products as the people of this
region is non vegetarian in their food habit. Production of fish is also lower (5.9 kg) than
national average (6.2 kg). The low production coupled with high demand for fish results
again on dependency on imports.
Cultivation of the maize holds the promise to solve the problem of poor
nutritional status and dependency on imports as the climatic condition of the NER
favours its cultivation, but average productivity of the region (1236 kg/ha) is for low than
the national average (2435 kg/ha). The farmers are cultivating local cultivars. An on farm
trial (OFT) was conducted by Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Phek in 2008 to test the
performance of single cross hybrid maize varieties, HPQM-1 and Shaktiman-3. Both the
varieties have performed exceptionally well, the yield recorded was 4930 kg/ha and 4589
kg/ha respectively for HPQM-1 and Shaktiman-3 as against to local check (3198 kg/ha).
The results obtained clearly demonstrate the potential of the crop.
Population Growth, Density and Per Capita Income of the NER:
The north eastern region is comprised of eight states located in India’s north-east
cover an area of 2,62,179 sq. km. constituting 7.9 per cent of the country’s total
geographical area, but have only 39 million people or about 3.8 per cent of the total
population of the country (2001 census). The density of population varies from 13 per sq.
km. in Arunachal Pradesh to 340 per sq. km. in Assam.
Table1: Population growth and density in North Eastern states
Population Decadal Growth(%) Density* Urban
(lakh) Population(%)
States 1981 1991 2001 1981-91 1991-01 2001 2001
Arunachal 6.3 8.6 11.0 36.8 28.0 13 20.4
Assam 180.4 224.1 266.6 24.2 18.9 340 12.8
Manipur 14.2 18.4 22.9 29.3 24.9 108 23.9
Meghalaya 13.4 18.8 23.2 32.9 30.8 103 19.6
Mizoram 4.9 6.9 8.9 39.8 28.8 42 49.5
Nagaland 8.8 12.1 19.9 56.1 64.5 120 18.8
Sikkim 3.2 4.1 5.4 28.5 33.1 86 11.1
Tripura 20.5 28.6 32.0 34.3 16.0 304 18.0
India 6,833.3 8,464.2 10,288.4 23.9 21.5 324 28.8
Source: Office of the Registrar General of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Note: *Population density is measured in number of people per square kilometer
Over 84 per cent of the population lives in the countryside. The region is
identified as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots; it hosts species-rich tropical rain
forests and supports diverse flora and fauna and several crop species. The forest cover in
the region constitutes 52 per cent of its total geographical area. Thus, a large part of the
area of the region is used to providing global public goods, which limits the availability
of arable land and enhances the cost of delivering public services to the sparse
population. Per capita income of the region as per estimate for 2007-08 is Rs. 25321 i.e.
about 76 per cent of the national average per capita income (Rs. 33,283).
Why Maize:
Maize is the third important crop of the country after wheat and rice and second
important crop of the NER after rice. Currently it occupies 0.2 million ha area in the
region and average productivity of maize is 1236 kg/ha. Maize is basically used as
livestock feed, around sixty four percent of the maize produced in the world and 72% in
the developed markets is used as animal feed. Country wide its consumption as human
food is 25%, rest is used as animal feed (12%), poultry feed (49%), industrial products
(12%) and 1% each in brewery and seed. However in NER maize is the most prefered
cereal crop under jhum cultivation and it is consummed basically as human feed (20%),
poultry feed (20%,), cattle feed 8%, pig feed (50%) and seed (2%).
People of the region are basically non vegetarian in their food habit and they raise
all kind of livestock basically for meat, even the cattle and buffalo is also raised chiefly
for meat instead of milk. Approximately 78% of the total maize production of the region
is used as livestock feed but it is not sufficient to meet the requirement and region
depends on imports of maize, industrial byproducts and compound feed to sustain their
livestock. This clearly signifies the importance of the crop.
Why Single Cross Hybrid Maize:
The productivity of the maize (1236 kg/ha) in NER is far less than the national
average (2435 kg/ha) and if we see the change in production pattern, productivity has not
changed much in the region as the farmers are still taking the land races as evident from
table 2. On other hand if we take in account at national level then, there is a significant
increase in productivity of maize after adoption of Single Cross Hybrid (SCH) maize
varieties i.e. after 1990. It is evident from figure 1.
Table 2: Area, Production and productivity of Maize in North Eastern Region.
State 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008
Area Prod. Pro. Area Prod. Pro. Area Prod. Pro. Area Prod. Pro. Area Prod. Pro.
Arunachal 38.6 54.5 1411 37.8 55.0 1455 41.9 57.9 1373 46.3 63.5 1363 47.7 72.0 1580
Assam 20.0 14.0 700 19.2 13.9 724 19.0 13.7 721 18.0 14.0 778 19.8 15.6 788
Manipur 2.3 7.5 3261 3.2 8.9 2781 2.9 7.9 2724 2.9 7.9 2724 NANA NA
Meghalaya 16.9 25.9 1533 16.9 24.0 1420 16.9 24.1 1426 17.0 25.0 1471 16.9 24.1 1426
Mizoram 10.5 20.3 1939 7.5 15.7 2132 11.7 20.7 1917 10.7 21.0 1942 7.3 7.2 995
Nagaland 45.1 80.3 1394 46.4 83.5 1607 51.6 92.9 1587 64.7 108.3 1655 63.4 115.3 1809
Sikkim 36.7 57.1 1556 36.7 58.2 1586 37.9 56.5 1491 37.9 56.5 1491 40.8 64.89 1588
Tripura 2.2 2.2 1000 2.8 3.0 1071 2.2 2.2 1000 2.5 2.4 960 2.7 2.6 962
Maize is a good source of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and some of the important
vitamins and minerals. But normal maize has a drawback, its deficient in two essential
amino acid i.e. lysine and tryptophane. This leads to poor net protein utilization and
reduces the biological value of the maize. On other hand varieties developed through
Single cross hybrids like Shaktiman and HPQM series has opaque -2 gene. These
varieties have lower concentration of zein by 30% and higher lysine and tryptophane
level. Digestibility of the protein is also higher than the normal maize protein. The
biological value is almost twice of the normal maize. Therefore this type of maize has
been identified as quality protein maize (QPM). Adoption of QPM varieties on one hand
can enhance the production of maize and on other hand will enhance the performance of
the livestock raised on it thus finally it will reduce the dependency on import.

Source: Technical Bulletine; Directorate of Maize Research, ICAR

Figure 1: Area, Production and Productivity of Maize in India
Seed availability is a major problem for the farmers, particularly if we look the
terrain of the region. Single cross hybrid (SCH) maize has only two parental line in
contrast to double top cross lines and three way cross lines, this makes seed production
very convenient and farmers can easily maintain parental lines and also can produce
hybrid seeds.
Measures Adopted to Popularize SCH in NER:
On farm trial on QPM was conducted at different location of the Phek district of
Nagaland in Kharif 2008. The results were very encouraging, both the varieties HPQM-1
and Shaktiman-3 have performed exceptionally well, the yield recorded was 4930 kg/ha
and 4589 kg/ha respectively for HPQM-1 and Shaktiman-3 as against to local check
(3198 kg/ha). The results obtained clearly demonstrate the potential of the crop. The
results were discussed in the zonal workshop of zone III and finally it was decided to
have a separate workshop in consultation with Directorate of Maize Research (DMR).
The workshop was organized on 15th December 2008 at NRC on Mithun, Jharnapani. 29
KVKs (Annexure-I) of the NER have participated in the programme and a three pronged
strategy i.e. demonstration of SCH-QPM in the region, production of SCH seeds and
multiply the parental lines were finalized to popularize SCH-QPM in the region.
Following the strategy, demonstration in 180 acre area was organized in Kharif
2009 by all 27 participating KVKs of the region. The KVKs participated in the
programme includes West Kameng, Tirap, Lohit, Lower Dibang Valley, East Siang, West
Siang and Papumpare from Arunachal Pradesh, Karbi-Anglong, Kokrajhar and Sonitpur
from Assam, Ri Bhoi from Meghalaya, Aizawl, Kolasib, Lunglei, Champai, Mamit,
Serchhip, Saiha and Lawngtlai from Mizoram, Kohima, Mokokchung, Mon, Phek,
Tuensang and Dimapur from Nagaland and East Sikkim and South Sikkim from Sikkim.
12 KVKs has also started SCH seed production programme and 4 KVKs had also started
parental lines seed production for further seed multiplication.
Key learning:
Production potential of the SCH maize is about 30% higher than the local cultivar
without any supplementation of additional nutrients under jhum and terrace cultivation.
The farmers found the fresh cobs sweeter and softer than the local cultivar. Seed
availability is the key issue for success of the programme, so certain villages have to be
identified as seed village and the farmers of the selected villages should be trained
extensively for Hybrid seed production technique.
Livestock farming has a significant role in the economy of the farmer of the
region. Piggery and poultry are the commonly raised livestock; however broiler rabbitry
is also gaining momentum in the region. All afore mentioned animals are simple
stomached and they require quality protein in their diet. The Single Cross Hybrid/QPM
varieties cultivation can be an answer to meet the requirement of the quality protein.
Single cross hybrid maize production holds promise of reducing the food and
nutritional insecurity as 84% of the population is involved in agriculture and maize is 2nd
major crop of the region. Livestock keeping is the integral part of farming in NER and
maize is the most common feed which is being cultivated in the region, any improvement
in the quality and yield potential will directly influence the livelihood of the people.
The key to success of the programme is the systematic approach followed in the
implementation of the programme. At the end of this kharif region has about 37.0 tonnes
of QPM grain to be used as feed and 6.8 tonnes of QPM seed to be used for cultivation in
the next Kharif. This all could happen because of the convergence of the efforts of
innovative farmers, KVK functionaries, ZPD’s boosters and DMR’s supports.
R. K. Singh
Programme Coordinator, Krishi Vigyan Kendra - NRCM,
Porba, Phek, Nagaland