|White maize: a traditional food grain in developing countries. (1997)|
For perhaps more than 400 million people world-wide, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America1 , white maize plays a major role in the diet. Maize was domesticated in Central America some 6 000 to 10 000 years ago. It spread to the rest of the world in the 16th through 18th centuries, including sub-Saharan Africa, but white maize only became a major staple in eastern and southern Africa between the 1920s and the 1930s.
1 For the purposes of this report, "Central America" includes Mexico.
The bulk of maize grown worldwide is yellow, and three times as much maize is used for livestock feed as for direct human consumption. In parts of the developing world, demand for maize for livestock is increasing rapidly. Nonetheless, maize remains an important part of the human diet in many developing countries and, where it is grown, white maize tends to assume much greater importance than yellow varieties.
This paper outlines and analyzes the current structure of the world white maize economy, with emphasis on production, utilization, trade and technology development. The paper also contains production projections to the year 2000 and discusses some of the major constraints to expanding white maize production to meet the potential growth in demand.
Sections III, IV, and V discuss production, utilization and international trade, respectively. Sections VI and VII analyze features of price policies that affect the production and trade of white maize. Section VIII discusses some of the major issues in technology development for increasing the productivity of resources devoted to white maize production. Section IX presents the medium-term outlook for white maize supply, demand and trade, and Section X notes some of the pressing problems that need to be solved if supply is to meet the projected growth.
The scarcity of appropriate statistics and basic information proved a major problem in the preparation of this paper, a situation which has not improved in recent years. Only a few countries publish separate data for white and yellow maize production, trade and consumption. For many countries, therefore rough estimates had to be made, of the share of white maize in total national maize production to assess world output. Even cruder estimates of area planted in major regions have been made here2. These area estimates are in general based upon expert opinion and not on statistical sampling procedures. In addition, little is known about imports of maize by variety or prices paid in international trade. As a result of the paucity of data, the analysis had to be confined to broad developments and issues and, thus the conclusions should be treated with some caution.
2 These estimates are based on CIMMYT's mega-environment database and Dowswell, Paliwal and Cantrell (1996).