Maize Production

Maize production in Nepal

Maize cultivation is a way of life for most farmers in the hills of Nepal. Maize production in Nepal is one of the major cultivation in Nepal. It is a traditional crop cultivated as food, feed and fodder on slopping Bari land (rainfed upland) in the hills. It is grown under rainfed conditions during
the summer (April-August) as a single crop or relayed with millet later in the season.

Maize production in Nepal

In the terai, inner-terai, valleys, and low-lying river basin areas, maize is also grown in the winter and spring with irrigation. In 1997/1998, maize was grown on about 800,000 hater which represent 25% of the total area planted to cereals in Nepal. In the same period, 1,367,000 tons of maize
were produced, representing about 21% of Nepal’s total cereal production. The proportion of maize area to total cereals was 30% in the highhills, 40% in the midhills and about 11% in the terai2 .

Maize Production

Maize production as a proportion of total cereal production was 33% for the highhills, 39% for the midhills and 9% for the terai. More than two thirds of the maize produced in the midhills and highhills is used for direct human consumption at the farm level and the ratio of human consumption to total
production is higher in less accessible areas.

Maize production in Nepal now covering Terai region

In the terai, less than 50% of the maize is used for human consumption and a significant part of the production goes to the market. Maize yields fluctuate seasonally and annually especially in the hills. Although maize yields increased slightly over the past five years, there has been very little yield improvement when compared to nationwide yields 30 years ago. This is probably due to the expansion of maize cultivation into less suitable terrain, declining soil fertility, and the sluggish adoption of improved management practices. While productivity in the country is almost stagnant, the overall demand for maize—driven by increased demand for human consumption and livestock feed— is expected to grow by 4% to 6 % per year over the next 20 years.

maize field

Thus, Nepal will have to resort to maize imports in the future if productivity is not increased substantially Topographically, Nepal is broadly divided into three east west running ecological belts: the terai in the south along the border with India, the midhills in the center, and the highhills in the north along the boarder with Tibet, China. The terai consists of flat land that extends from the IndoGangatic plains and lies up to 800 m.

Maize Production as agricltural cultivation

The midhills are in the range of 800 m and 1,800 m and comprise steeply
sloped lands with many small valleys. The highhills, which lie above 1,800 m 9 , are steep sloped snowy mountains with few valleys. These three ecological belts – constitute 35%, 42%, and 23% respectively, of Nepal’s total
geographical area (147,480 sq. km).

Only about 16% of Nepal’s total land area is cultivated. Of this, the terai, where 38% of the land area is
cultivated, is the most important. Maize is the third most important crop here after paddy and wheat. The second most important agricultural land area is the midhills where 15% of land is cultivated. Maize, followed by
paddy and wheat are the most important crops grown in this belt.

Maize Field

In the highhills where only about 4% of the land is cultivated, livestock rather than crops play an important role. Maize is cultivated in very diverse environments in Nepal10 . The field survey reflected enormous diversity
among different maize production systems, regionally,
seasonally, and from one micro climatic zone to another.
Even at the VDC level, there are considerable variability
in soils, temperature, and rainfall, particularly in the hills.

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