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Today many farmers in different parts of the country are taking up contract farming of baby corn on behalf of food processing companies. The companies supply the farmers with high quality inputs - including hybrid seeds - besides cultivation knowhow. The harvested crop is then bought from the farmers at a predetermined price. This crop is processed and then mainly exported to the overseas market. With a market for their produce assured and an estimated net income of Rs 26,000 per acre including leftover after harvesting as cattle feed. Farmers are finding baby corn an attractive crop to cultivate. Baby corn cultivation is a recent development. It was Thailand in the early 1970s that first seriously started cultivating this crop for exports. Later other countries like Guatemala, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa started cultivation. Today Thailand and China are the world leaders in baby corn production. The growth of baby corn exports from Thailand has been amazing. From 67 tonnes worth U.S.$38,059 in 1974 their exports had risen to 3676 tonnes worth of U.S.$ 33 million in 1992. In India its cultivation is only now picking up in a serious way in Gujarat, Meghalaya, Western UP, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Now leading private sector companies in India like Champion Agro World are cultivating Baby corn on a large scale. Company has 273 acre land under Baby Corn cultivation. The cultivation technique has also now been more or less standardized. At the moment opportunities for baby corn appear to exist mostly in export market. Few companies -like Namdari Seeds - are selling fresh baby corn at retail food outlets like Food World in Bangalore. But many insiders say that a market for baby corn has still not developed within India. Urban customers in India are still not willing to pay the price that makes it viable for these processing companies to invest in expensive processing and preservation technology. Therefore it is the export markets that are currently attractive .So farmers intending to take up baby corn cultivation must try and get in touch with companies which are exporting baby corn and see whether they can take up contract farming on behalf of the companies. This way the problem of marketing baby corn is taken care off since the company will "buy back" their produce at a fixed price. Then further processing it in their canning & IQF plant. The company set up state of the art processing units to export canned fruits and vegetables inclusive of Baby Corn to Western Europe and North American countries. For this purpose they are going in for contract farming in and around Gujarat especially in Saurashtra region. The company would be supplying all necessary inputs for these growers, including Baby Corn seeds. The investments per farmer would be around Rs 4000 per acre. The expected yield will be anywhere between 3-4 tonne per acre depends on the care taken by the farmer. The end produce will be purchased by champion fresh for anywhere between Rs 4-5 per
kg. The baby corn will be cleaned and individual quick frozen. This will give the product a shelf life of up to 2 years. WORLD MARKET OVERVIEW The consumption of baby corn in Asia is highest in the world. Now, baby corn production and markets are expanding worldwide, especially in Asia, Africa and South America. Countries well known as exporters of baby corn include Thailand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Indonesia, South Africa, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras. Major baby corn markets are U.K., the U.S., Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. However, statistical information on baby corn production is limited because many producing countries either neglect to make a report of baby corn production or barely include it in sweet corn production. The following is a summary of the world market situation of baby corn in each region: North America: One of the largest baby corn markets is the U.S. so we will focus on the U.S market. Many countries in North America usually import fresh baby corn. However, fresh baby corn is rarely available in retail businesses such as supermarkets. It is usually used in high-end restaurants, which prefer unhusked baby corn. As for canned baby corn, the U.S. mostly imports it from Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Factories in the U.S. prefer to buy baby corn in can, and make it into brined baby corn in glass jars. Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) baby corn has the smallest market share in the U.S. market in comparison to other processed baby corn products because of its high price Europe: European countries import fresh baby corn more than the U.S. Fresh Baby corn is in most demand here. Baby corn products are imported both in loose and pre-packed forms, though the later is more prevalent. U.K. is the largest fresh baby corn market in the Europe. In the country, fresh baby corn is normally distributed through retailers such as supermarkets. This contrasts with the U.S. market, where fresh baby corn is used primarily in restaurants. Among European countries, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya are known as big exporting countries. The Netherlands is also considered an exporter for this region. But, it is not actually a producer because it imports baby corn from Asia and Africa, and re-exports baby corn to northern Europe as well as the Middle East. Middle East: The import volume of baby corn in Middle East countries is mainly accounted for by the Netherlands. However, baby corn from the Netherlands, in fact, comes from Asia and Africa. The country just imports baby corn from other producers, and re-exports it to many countries in this region. Buyers in the Middle East generally import baby corn in the pre-packed form like European importers. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of canned baby corn. Asia: World baby corn supplies mostly come from Asian countries. Therefore, they are regarded as producers rather than importers. However, there are some Asian countries that import a lot of baby corn. These are, for instance, Japan, Malaysia, which usually import canned baby corn.
Baby corn production generally requires the cultivation practices recommended for normal corn production, except that the crop cycle or duration is only about 60 days as compared to the 110120 days duration of the grain crop. Here is a quick look at some of the main requirements.
Soil: Well drained, Sandy loam to Silty loam soils is best suited for baby corn cultivation. It can also be grown in well drained black soils. Season: June-July, October-November and January-February sowings are recom-mended. Although Baby corn can be cultivated throughout the year. Seeds per acre: 15 - 16 Kg per acre (Hybrid / Composite / Good varieties) Land Preparation: The land must be deep ploughed once and the soil must be worked up with a harrow and then a cultivator to bring it to a fine filth and to minimize weed problem. Apply the well decomposed FYM and mix it well with soil by running a cultivator. Land must then be laid out into ridges 40-45 cm apart. Sowing: Seeds must be sown as 15-17.5 cm distance on one side of the ridge. Plant 2 seeds per hill and then there would be approximately 90,000 - 100,000 established plants per acre. Fertilizer application: 4 MT of FYM (Farm Yard Manure) per acre should be applied 30 days before sowing. A basal dose of 20 Kg per acre of Nitrogen, 30 Kg per acre of Phosphorous and 30 Kg per acre of Potash should be applied. Subsequently, 20 Kg per acre of Nitrogen should be applied between 25 and 30 days and another 20 Kg per acre of Nitrogen should be applied 45 days of sowing. The above fertilizer recommendation would vary depending on rainfall and local agro-climatic conditions.
Weed control: Spraying Simazine Atrazine at the rate of 2.5 kg (for sandy loam) to 3 kg (for black soil) dissolved in 750 litres of water on the soil on the day of sowing or the next day after irrigation. Plant Protection: Baby Corn is a 60 days crop and thus chances of being infested by pests and diseases is less but any attack by pest and disease would reduce the plant's ability to grow and hence reduce yield. Thus preventive measures are always recommended. Detasseling: Detasseling is an essential operation in the cultivation of baby corn. It is done by removing the tassel of the plant as soon as it emerges from the flag leaf and before it starts shedding pollen grains. If this is not done, Baby Corn can get pollinated and the quality gets affected. Harvesting: For better quality baby cobs harvesting is done when the cobs are 8-10 cm long, 11.5 cm in diameter and weigh 7-8 g. Harvesting can begin when the first silk has emerged about 0.5-1 cm. Subsequently, second and third harvest can be done. If silk grows older and longer the quality of the cob deteriorates. First picking of the cobs can be done 45-50 days after planting depending on the variety, followed by further 3-4 pickings on alternate days. The fresh cobs with husks must be sent to the market immediately to avoid weight loss.
Supply chain for baby corn:
Sowing Germination Fully Growing Plant Silk Apearance Con Formation Harvesting
Grading Sorting Baby corn Processing-Peeling Baby Corn Storage at cold Room Sampling Arrival at Packing House
Placing in punnets Weighing Punnet Wrapping Pre-cooling Filling in boxes Ready to Dispatch
Company Farm: Total Area under Cultivation: 140 acre (Now 230 Acres)
Yearly Production: 300-350 tonne Daily Production: 3-3.5 tonne Total Crop/year: 3-4 Crop Harvesting: 45-50 days in summer, 60-75 days in winter Total Blocks: 10 Crop Production/block: 33 tonne Yield & Recovery: 13% (1.5 kg ± 1.8 kg) Manpower used: 35-40 (Vary with Crop) Costing/Crop: Land Size: 12 Acre Seed: 115 kg DAP: 8 kg Fertilizer: 48 Bags Urea: 18 Bags (2 times 12+6) Pesticide: 72 ltr. & 28 kg Labor Cost: Rs. 32850 Energy Cost: 120 ltr. Diesel (43 hrs) Total Production: 33 tonne
Economics of baby corn
Given below is an estimate of the cost and returns farmers can expect from baby corn cultivation. These figures are bound to vary depending on the variety grown, place of cultivation and the care taken. Economics of baby corn cultivation : per acre for the farmer. Item Requirement Unit Cost per unit Seeds 16 Kgs 125 FYM Fertiliser 4 Mt Tons Nitrogen 60 kgs Phosphorus 30 kgs Potash 30 kgs Irrigation 5 Nos 75 Land Preparation Tractor hiring Labour Sowing 2 man days 50 Fertiliser 3 man days 50 Harvesting (6 pickings) 6 man days 50 Transportation & Miscellaneous -
Total cost in Rs. 2000 800 650 720 350 375 400 100 150 300 200 Total 6045
Returns Yield of cobs with husk (average yield) -- 4000 kgs Procurement price from the farmer -- Rs.4 per kilo Total income from cobs 16,000 Income from green fodder 10,000 Total income 26,000 Net income for the farmer Rs.19,955 or approx Rs 20,000/acre
Submitted by: Pankaj Goyal