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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Maize producing countries | Indian maize market | Major trading centers | Contract specifications

Maize is a type of cereal grain. In countries like United States, Australia and Canada, it is known as corn. It has a nutritional value for both animals and humans. The word maize means “ one that sustains life” and also an indian legend says that maize was the food of the gods that created the earth. It was first adopted and cultivated by the Latin American countries around 7000 years ago. Hybrid maize is one the variety of maize which generally have a high  yield level and that is why it is most favored by the farmers. Another varieties of  Maize are Sweet corn, Dent corn, Flint corn, Popcorn, Flour corn, Sweet corn and Pod corn.


Maize is the most important crop in the world after wheat and rice. It has continued to be the leading crop in terms of production and area of land on which it has been produced during the last decade. It is as much a significant crop in the American countries like rice and wheat in Asia. Maize has a wide variety of usage too. It  is used as a feed and in the production of  alcoholic beverages and of food sweeteners, starch, oil and proteins. Recently, it has been discovered that maize or corn can also be used in the production of fuel. United states of America is a major corn producing country. The states in US like Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana contributes to over 80% of the total production in US. The production of maize was 614.3 million tons in 2003 and was still rising in the later years. Consumption of corns is also on an increasing level. It is basically consumed for three uses – as food, as feed for animals and as raw material for industry. USA and China are the major maize consuming countries.

As USA is the largest corn producing country, it is also the largest exporter of maize to the rest of the world. Argentina and Brazil comes on the 2nd and 3rd place. On the other hand, the major share of maize imports is constituted by: -

  • Japan

  • Korea

  • Taiwan

  • Mexico

  • Egypt

  • Malaysia

  • European Union

  • Colombia.


Maize has a very long and interesting history behind it. There are many stories and legends relating to the origin of corn in different cultures. Maize is considered to be a human invention, as naturally this plant cannot exist. It is believed that the people in Mexico developed this cereal from a wild grass known as ‘Teosinte’ around 7000 years ago.

Maize then got popular and spread in whole of the South America and some parts of North America. Even before Columbus discovered America, maize had already became a major constituent in the food of the native people. When he discovered America, maize spread to the world and got popular everywhere.

Cultivation pattern

Maize is the only crop which has got the highest weight of production even as compared to rice and wheat. The planting of the maize crop is done in the spring season so that it could get the benefit of the rains in this season. Rains for this crop, are very important as maize is very sensitive to drought. This crop is generally cultivated in a two or three crop rotation. The cultivation of maize involves the following steps:-
  1. Planting – Planting of  the crop is when the crop is planted. The planting of maize is generally done in mid of April to mid of May.
  2. Silking – Silking is the most crucial stage in the crop cultivation. It means pollination of the crop.
  3. Doughing – When the maize crop starts to show a thick substance, the crop is said to be doughed.
  4. Denting- During the process of doughing, the plant spends all its resources in the formation of those dough like substance and this causes the plant to reduce and a ‘dent’ starts to show, on the end of the substance. This is called denting.
  5. Maturing – When the green foliage is gone and maize appears from the opening of the foliage, the crop is said to be matured.
  6. Harvesting – The crop usually gets matured around the year end and then it harvested.


Maize producing countries


  • United states
  • China
  • 25 countries in the European Union
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • India

These countries produce about 4/5ths of the world’s total maize production. The production of maize is constantly increasing. This is because of the rising demand from the industries in maize is used as raw material. The area under cultivation for maize is maximum in the countries United States, China, Brazil, Mexico and India.

Production of maize in India

India’s produces around 10-14 million tons of maize annually. This contributes to about 2% of the total world production. Maize in India is generally produced as ‘kharif’ crop, which means that it is usually produced in the summers. Most of the corn produced in India mainly comes from the southern Corn Belt states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Earlier in 50’s and 60’s, the maize production was improved through crop management techniques and increasing the area under cultivation. Now it is being improved through improvement in yield levels. The Indian states in which maize is produced are: -

  • Karnataka

  • Andhra Pradesh

  • Bihar

  • Punjab

  • Uttar Pradesh

  • Madhya Pradesh

  • Gujarat

  • Himachal Pradesh

Indian maize market

Maize as a crop needs a vast variety of environments for production. India as big and an agriculture-oriented country provide all the basic requirements for it. India produces around 10 million ton of maize. Karnataka is the leading producer of maize in India as it falls under the corn belt of India and produces around 15% of India’s total produce. In India, the area on which maize is cultivated is 7 million hectares in 2004. India consumes almost all the maize that it produces. About 50% of the total Indian produce is consumed as poultry feed and about 8% is consumed by the starch industry. Indian maize exports fluctuates around 5 lakh tons annually. Mostly the southwestern countries import maize from India.

  In another words, India can be considered as maize importing country. Government fixes the quantity of maize to be imported each year and the imports are to be done on 15%.

  Market Influencing Factors

  • Weather of the area in which it is produced and natural calamities like floods, droughts etc
  • Changes in the government policies relating to the minimum support prices
  • Cheaper prices of the substitute products
  • Changes in the seasons
  • Technological changes and improvements


Major trading centers of maize


  • Chicago
  • Budapest (Hungary)
  • South Africa
  • Liaoning (China)
  • Kenya

  In India, maize is traded at

  • Patna (Bihar)
  • Chapra (Bihar)
  • Begusarai (Bihar)
  • Motihari (Bihar)
  • Dohad (Gujrat)
  • Banglore (Karnataka)
  • Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Udaipur (Rajasthan)
  • Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh)

Maize is also traded in the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange ltd.


Future contract specifications of maize in various commodity exchanges
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