At present, maize attracts 50 per cent import duty. The zero duty concession on the overseas purchase of maize has been given under the tariff rate quota (TRQ) following representation from poultry, starch and animal feed industry.

"The Commerce Ministry has allowed import of 5,00,000 tonnes of non-genetically modified (GM) maize at zero duty under the TRQ. PEC Ltd has been made canalising agency to undertake the import," a senior government official said.

A circular in this regard was issued during December-end. Accordingly, PEC has floated a global tender for import of 3,20,000 tonnes of non-GM yellow maize to boost domestic supply from next month, the official said.

The non-GM maize is mostly available in Europe. PEC will import maize at zero duty and further supply it to the industry. India had last imported maize in 1991.

As per the tender document, bids are to be submitted by January 11 and the decision on tenders will be taken on the same day. The bids will be valid upto January 14.

Imported yellow maize should reach Indian ports – Kandla Magdalla, JSW Jaigarh, Vishakhapatnam, Tuticorin and Kolkata by February.

According to the industry, maize output is likely to drop by up to 40 per cent in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to 14 per cent deficit in monsoon rains. Maize production had dropped to 23.67 million tonnes in 2014-15 too from the record of 24.26 million tonnes in the previous year.

India is traditionally a major exporter of maize to Southeast Asia and the likely fall in production is expected to hit exports.

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