Among specialty corn, sweet corn has a very high big market potential and has great genetic variability and scope to improve its nutritive value.
Maize is the third most vital source of calories subsequent to wheat and rice. Maize growers have a striking option to shift to specialty to corn production due to high returns and generation of employment opportunities especially in urban areas.
Among specialty corn, sweet corn has a very big market potential and has great genetic variability and scope to improve its nutritive value. It is a mutant type with one or more recessive alleles in homozygous condition, which enables endosperm to accumulate twice the sugar content as that of the seed corn. Before it ripe and dry, it has a sweeter taste than do other corn types, because its endosperm contains sugars as well as starch.
North America is the primary grower of sweet corn. However, its use is increasing worldwide over the past 30 years. As locally produced fresh vegetables continue to gain market prominence in Pakistan. Fresh sweet corn has become an attractive option for vegetarians. Although, clients enjoy sweet corn due to its tender kernels, high sugar concentration and flavor, it can be an admirable source of vitamins C and E and some minerals.
Sweet corn differs from field corn in terms of genetic rather than its systematic or taxonomic characterization. It is grown in temperate, tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Maize grain is important source of vitamins, Proteins (10.4%), Fat (4.5%), starch (71.8%) and minerals like sulphur, calcium and phosphorus. It also provides raw material to starch industry and is used in the preparation of many products.
Sweet corn originated from North America. However, burning up of this crop is rising worldwide over the past 30 years. It is one of the most popular vegetables in the USA, Canada and Australia. Sweet corn has typically ranked as one of the most five valuable vegetable crops in Florida. Florida is the dominant producer in the United States and harvested on an area (17050 ha or 17 % of the U.S.) and produce 25.2 % of the U.S.
In Turkey, production and consumption of sweet corn has increased swiftly in recent years. It is becoming popular in India and other Asian countries. The climatic condition in Bangladesh is suitable for corn cultivation round the year. Therefore, there is sufficient scope for cultivation of sweet corn in Bangladesh, as well. A substantial processing industry has been established in south of France and in Hungary. It is also grown for processing in Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Sweet corn production in Pakistan
The demand of fresh vegetables is continuously gain prominence among consumers in Pakistan. This increasing trend of fresh vegetables consumption motivate to growers to provide diversity of fresh vegetables. As locally produced fresh vegetables continue to gain market prominence in Pakistan. Fresh market sweet corn has become an attractive option for vegetarians. It is produced for local markets in Azad and Jammu Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Mingora, Swabi and Mansehra. In other areas of Pakistan like Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi vegetable growers have started to grow sweet corn at small scale. National and International seed producing companies are supplying its seed for kitchen gardening and for local markets. In addition, Agronomy and horticulture departments at University of Agriculture Faisalabad have started to grow sweet corn to promote its production at farmer field level.
As every crop has to face Insects and pest attack, some pest of sweet corn also identified that damage its stem, leaves and economical part. One of these is European corn borer “Ostrinia Nubilalis” (Hubner) ; is an important pest of sweet corn in the USA and elsewhere. Its larvae emerging within a week and start feeding on leaves, subsequently boring into the stalk or ear. Multiple generations of this pest occur in overall growing season of sweet corn. Until now, there is no successful biological control of “Hubner”.
Stewart’s bacterial wilt is an important disease of sweet corn. The disease is caused by bacterial pathogen, “Erwinia Stewartii”. Once a plant is infected, bacteria multiply in the vascular tissue restricting the flow of nutrients and water.
Uses of sweet corn
- Sweet corn is one of the popular and economically important vegetables. Fresh, canned and frozen sweet corn rank among the top ten vegetables in value and per capita consumption.
- It is produced for human consumption either as fresh or processed products, and also grown for fresh consumption as vegetables.
- It can be used for green forage to fulfill the nutrition requirements of livestock.
- Liquidized kernels of sweet corn are often used as baby food.
- Due to having high sugar contents, it is used in bakery products.
- Food technologists make many types of products from sweet corn.
- The value added by processing is usually estimated to be between 500-600%.
- Two thirds of the corn for processing is canned and the remainder is frozen.
- Canned sweet corn ranks second in per capita consumption behind canned tomato products.
- It provides raw material to starch industry.
Opportunities in Pakistan
Vegetables constitute an integral part of cropping system. Increasing pressure on foods and cash crops has limited the area under vegetables to about 0.62 million hectare. To get maximum yield from this limited area to feed the masses, there is a need to grow mutant vegetables that produce maximum yield. Sweet corn is a mutant crop (vegetable) and produces maximum output. Secondly, as malnutrition is one of the large problems of poor countries, it can reduce this problem to some extent. Because it is important source of protein, starch, vitamins, fats and minerals like sulphur calcium and phosphorus. A large number of Pakistani farmers are interested in vegetable production with too much work force. They can provide a necessary stock to vegetable markets at proper prices.
To eradicate the malnutrition problem form the country, the production of sweet corn at large scale is need of the hour. In this context, Govt. of Pakistan should take the following steps;
- Manipulate this culture at farmers level on subsidies bases,
- Create the maximum awareness among masses by exploring its potential merits,
- Develop capacity of stakeholders including academia, researchers, extensionists and farmers,
- Demonstrate this technology at farmer level,
- Provide crop insurance to the farmers.