Plantation Species: Maize
In recent years, commercial cultivation of maize has boomed in Sri Lanka and currently provides an attractive income and livelihood for local farmers. When compared to maize grown on the traditional paddy fields, commercially grown maize is approximately 400% more profitable.
The Sri Lankan government has thrown its support behind efforts to boost the cultivation of maize, most recently by banning maize imports, which has already increased prices for domestic output. Production is by three multi-national companies and numerous small farmers scattered all over the island. The country needs 300,000 tonnes of maize a year, largely to meet demand for animal feeds rather than human consumption. Some 75,000 tonnes of maize is now being produced in Sri Lanka, but this still leaves a very considerable shortfall.
Biofuel plants are also springing up around the country along with a growing strong global market further driving up demand for maize. It should be noted that Sri Lanka is considered one of the best locations in South East Asia for cultivating maize. The country has ideal climatic conditions to produce good harvests. The maximum time required for cultivation from seed to useable crop is 4 months, with new varieties reducing this to as little as 75 days. With well prepared fields, effective irrigation and cultivation, Sri Lanka already produces good to exceptional yields averaging around three tonnes per acre with dated farming practices.