India is an agrarian country and agriculture is considered as a base of Indian economy. Around 67% of Indian population is directly or indirectly dependant on agriculture .

The Country has diverse range of geographic and climatic conditions suitable for cultivating wide range of agricultural and horticultural crops.

Due to globalization, competition is increased across the globe in both food as well as non food industry segments. The industry segment has to adapt economically sustaining operations right from raw material purchasing to selling the product at end market. In processed food products palatability, convenience, quality factors are becoming equally important along with price factor. Even with the spectacular increase during the recent years in production of the finer cereals i.e., rice, wheat or also of jowar coarse grain, there is no problem of surplus of maize. It is, therefore, inferred that, with the increasing demand for food grains from growing population, maize will hold its share as an important cereal food grain. Similarly Soybean is considered as one of the important commercial crops besides rice, Wheat, Barley and millets. In India Soybean is second largest oil seed crop after ground nut and mainly utilized for edible oil and soy meal production.

This paper will focus on major products processed and costs associated with certain processed products from maize and soybean crops. The objective of the paper is to make the reader aware about potential of both the crops along with major processed products manufactured and economics associated with it. 


Maize is the most widely distributed crops of the world. It is cultivated in tropics, sub-tropics and temperate regions. It is known that origin of maize is Mexico. As regards to area and production maize ranks third in world production (380 MT from 120MH) following wheat (440 MT from 240 MH) and rice (420 MT from 140 MH). This represents 24% of the total cereal production as compared to 27 % for wheat and 25% for rice. Tremendous choice is available as regards to varieties maturing in 85 days to more than 200 days with variability in grain colour and texture etc.

More than seventy countries (including 15 developed and 58 developing) produce maize having more than 1, 00,000ha. India occupies fifth place in area under maize in the world, the first four being US, Brazil, China and Mexico respectively and ranks tenth in production. 

Maize is cultivated in almost all states in the country. Bihar is the leading producer in India followed by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh. The crop is grown both in Kharif and Rabi seasons in India with a share of 85 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. It gives highest average grain yield (30.5 Qt /ha) as compared to major cereals such as wheat (19.0 qt /ha) and rice (25.9 Qt /ha). The status maize enjoys as one of the highest yielding among world's major crops of its own nature viz., efficient utilization of radiant energy and fixations of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As per the productivity is concerned the Indian maize has noted 2.17mt/ha and global average is 5mt/ha which reflects the need in further increase in the productivity of maize.

Utilization pattern of maize

Maize is an important cereal in many developed and developing countries of the world. It is widely used for animal feed and industrial raw material in the developed countries where as the developing countries use it in general for feed. In Indian Agriculture, Maize occupies a prominent position and each part of the maize plant is put to one or the other use and nothing goes as waste.

Nutritionally, maize contains 60 to 68% starch and 7 to 15% protein. The embryo which forms about 12% of the whole grain is the source of protein, fats and sugars. Yellow maize is the richest sources of Vitamin-A. Maize has more riboflavin than wheat or rice and is rich in phosphorous and potash.

In most of the developing countries maize is consumed directly as food. In India, over 85 percent of the maize production is used as food, while exports are negligible. Most commonly used forms are as (1) Chapattis (2) porridges of various forms (iii) boiled or roasted green ears (iv) breakfast foods like corn flakes and (v) Pop corn. For the (iii) and (v) category sweet and Pop corn varieties are especially grown in USA and Europe. Maize produced in India is utilized for human consumption (33%), starch production (9%), poultry feed (46.5%), brewery (0.5%) and animal feed (11%).

It is used directly for human consumption, in industrially processing foods, as Live-stock feed and in industrially non food products such as starches, acids and alcohols. When compared to other crops, the economics of maize cultivation is lowest. Among cereals and millets oil is extracted only from maize. Recently, there has been interest in using maize for production of ethanol a substitute for petroleum based fuels.

Corn Oil:


Maize contains 1.2 to 5.7 % edible oil which is extracted from germ of corn. The oil content of corn varieties is as much as 14% which has 98% fat. Corn oil is widely used as a cooking medium and for manufacturing of hydrogenated oil which is less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils. The oil has the quality of reducing cholesterol in the human blood like sunflower oil. The corn oil is also a feedstock used for biodiesel. Other uses are in soap, paint industry as well as oil molecules are used as a carrier for drug molecules in pharmaceutical preparations.

Corn Starch:

Corn is the major source of starch which has many industrial applications. The product can be uses in food as well as nonfood areas. The largest users of starch are paper, cardboard & corrugating industries. This is also used in Pharmaceutical, cosmetics, paint and construction sector. The starch has potential to be used in biodegradable plastics as well as packaging material. Most of the starch manufacturers of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, etc., have their marketing offices in Mumbai. Hence, Ahmedabad and Mumbai are the major trading centres for corn starch in India. 

Similarly, Corn flour is used as a thickening agent in the preparation of many edibles like soups, sauces and custard powder. Corn syrup is used as an agent in confectionary units. Corn sugar is used in pharmaceutical formulations is a sweetening agent in soft drinks etc. corn gel on account of its moisture retention character is used as a bonding agent for ice-cream cones.

Forage and Feed:

The next important field where maize finds extensive use is for livestock feeds viz cattle Poultry and piggery both in the form of seeds and fodder. The green fodder can be fed to milch cattle to boost the milk production of a considerable extent. The digest ability of maize fodder is higher than sorghum, bajra and other non-leguminous forage crops. Gluten has great demand in animal feed industry because of its high protein content (70%) and fiber, mainly the husk, is used by animal feed manufacturers. Maize plant does not have any problem of hydrogenic acid or prussic acid production, hence of necessary crop can be harvested and fed to cattle at any stage of its growth, of course ideal stage of harvest for green fodder mid dough stage, when the dry matter content and digestibility are more desirable. The high carotene content of yellow maize is considered to be very useful in importing yellow colour to egg yolk and yellow tinge to the milk. No other concentrate is yet to known to substitute maize in this respect.

Industrial Uses:

The industrial uses based on the physical properties of the cob when ground to powder are as fillers for explosives in the manufacture of plastics, glues, adhesives, rayon, resin, vinegar and artificial leather and as diluents and carrier in the formulation of insecticides and pesticides. Based on the chemical properties the processed cobs find their use in the manufacture of furfurol, fermentable sugars, solvents, liquid fuels, charcoal gas and other chemicals by destructive distillation, and also in the manufacture of pulp, paper and hard boards. The water in which the maize grains are soaked for the manufacture of glucose is used for growing penicillin moulds.

Processed food products from maize:

Corn flakes:
The breakfast cereal technology emerged which has gained popularity in higher and higher middle income group people. The flakes are mainly manufactured from corn plant and many MNCs, Indian companies and now a day's local companies as well entered in the corn flakes manufacturing activity. There is a good opportunity in the agro processing sector wherein cost competitive cornflakes products can be manufactured and marketed under Indian brand. This product may get the market due to its cost competitive factor. The corn flakes manufacturing unit of 200 tons capacity will cost somewhat higher than corn flakes due to the improved technology involved in the process. The machinery cost is around 2 lakh and the total cost including investment in asset, working capital etc is around 7.8 lakhs. Around 10% profit is observed at the end of first year including all costs including running costs involved in it.

Baby Corn:
Baby corn is nothing but the tender cobs harvested from corn / maize. The baby corn is used as a vegetable and also as a special gourmet touch to dishes and salads. Baby corn can be grown as a market crop as the drop is gaining good amount of share in corn market. Small and medium entrepreneurs can enter in baby corn business by marketing the crop to hotels and restaurants. Equally the crop has good opportunity in export business provided good quality with freshness is maintained via efficient supply chain management. He baby corn has also good opportunity in canning business where off season marketing can be done where it is preserved in brine and packed in glass jar. The baby corn market is attractive and has good scope to grow in the international market. In the domestic market it has potential to capture the consumers in the metro cities as well as hotels, restaurant industry as well.

Thus Maize can be used for variety of purposes and has good potential to grow in the fresh market and processed food market. In India, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata are the major markets for processed maize products. Maize processors directly market their products to the consumers like pharmaceutical industries, hotels, textiles, paper industries, etc. and through traders as well. Most of them have their marketing offices in metros and big cities for direct sale. They also sell through trading agencies as well. These traders restrict marketing of the products of one or a few companies and prefer to procure different maize products from a single supplier. Therefore, it is advisable for a maize processor to have processing facilities for starch and its derivatives like liquid glucose, dextrose monohydrate, etc. Also, different industries require different types of starch and the processor should be able to meet their demand to compete in the market. Starch and Gluten have good export potential as well. India exports these products to Sri Lanka, South East Asian countries, Bangladesh and South Africa.

The economics of cultivation of maize, jowar and wheat are almost the same: but the cost benefit ratio in case of maize is highest because of its high productivity. For processing of maize and its products mini factories can be setup around maize growing-areas of our country. This will enhance the demand for maize and its products and the growers can be directed their produce directly to the factories. If we see a popcorn manufacturing unit of 60 tons capacity, the investment in plant and machinery will go around Rs 80,000 and including the cost in other assets and working capital, the total project cost goes up to Rs 2.80 lakh. These kinds of investments are viable for a small scale agri entrepreneur. At the end of first year the profit observed is around 12% and generally it increases in following years. The problems which are generally observed in maize crop production and its marketing are negligible processing facility; secondly most of the farmers mainly focus on fine cereals like wheat and rice, therefore lack of awareness of maize as a potential crop is observed.


Soybean is the crop originated in China and known as a miracle crop having 40% protein and 20% oil. The crop is also known as "Golden Bean" as it gives edible oil and other nutritious health products on one side and also used to manufacture candles as well as biodiesel on other side. The crop provides high quality protein but only minimal saturated fat. These attributes alone would earn soya foods a bigger place in western diets.

The major producer countries of soybean are US, Brazil, Argentina, China and India. Soybean is basically a summer crop cultivated in the month of June in India. While the crop starts arriving from Aug to Sept In US, India, China and from Jan-Feb in S. America. 

The major soybean exporters are Argentina, Brazil, USA, India and EU while the importer countries are Central Europe, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Canada. In India, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the largest producers of soybean in the country accounting for nearly 90% of the domestic production. Soybean is the most popular oilseed currently after groundnut is also the largest produced oil meal in the country. The extraction industry in India is concentrated mainly in the State of Madhya Pradesh. It has been reported that more than 90 per cent of soya cake/meal comes from this State, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are the other important states where the industry is located. The Soybean Processors Association of India (SOPA), an apex body looking after interests of the industry over the years. 
Health Importance: 

In China, they call Soybean as the Chinese cow. Soya differs from other cereals and legumes by containing highest amount of protein. They can react like animal proteins and could actually replace them. The amino acids are similar to those of cow's milk. It fulfils all physiological requirements as the casein in the milk. Soya products have been a part of the standard diet in China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries for centuries. 

Soya being rich in protein becomes the food choice of the new millennium that has carved a niche for itself in the sports nutrition world. Soya and its formulated products like tofu and beverages could supply 40 percent good quality protein, 23 percent carbohydrates,20 percent of cholesterol free oil, over 60 percent of iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamin-B required by an athlete for one day. 

Apart from this, Soybean reduce the risk of breast, prostate and other cancers, reduce the risk of osteoporosis reduce serum cholesterol, prevents heart diseases, improves diabetic control. Researchers have revealed that soya is an excellent body builder and also helps sportsperson to recover quickly after intense training.

There is some research that suggests that soy foods may help to prevent heart disease by reducing total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol. 

Soya Products:

Soya a rich source of protein has applications in food ad well as non food sector. In India, out of total production of Soybean, 5% is used for food and feed, 10% for seed and 5% for oil extraction. In food category, Soya is used in Bakery, Meat, Breakfast cereals, Beverages, Infant formula and dairy segment, while soy candle and soy oil cake / meal, biodiesel come under non food category. The products like soya milk, soy paneer (tofu), full fat soy flour, soy nuts and soya fortified biscuits are available in the market. Soya meal is further processed to yield a host of items, viz. soya flour, soya sauce, soya nuggets and, soya-based ready to eat snack foods, etc. Specially soy nuggets I e textured soy protein is a potent product. The product is favored by all classes of consumers on all occasions. 

Soy meal: 
Soy meal is the world's most important vegetable protein feed source accounting for nearly 65 % of World protein feed demand. It is a product obtained after oil extraction from soy bean. About 98 percent of soy meal is used as an animal feed ingredient, with the remainder used in human foods such as bakery ingredients and meat substitutes. Soybean meal is considered a premium product because of its high digestibility, high energy content and consistency. 

United States, China, Brazil, Argentina, India are the major producers of soy meal in the world. India mainly exports the soy meal to Asian countries. Our total soy meal export stands to 2.6 million tons in 2009-10. While, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Japan are some of the major importers of soy meal from the country. India typically exports around 65% of the country's soy meal production currently. Soy meal accounted for 84% of the total edible oilseed meal exports from the country. India, does not import soy meal to meet the requirements of the domestic feed industry, as the price equation inclusive of transports does not work in favour of imports.

Soybean Oil:
Soybean oil is extracted through refining process and known as most traded edible oil in the international market after palm oil.

About 97 percent of soybean oil is used in a wide range of products for human use, such as cooking oil, salad dressing, sandwich spreads, margarine, salad oils, coffee creamer, mayonnaise, shortenings, chocolate coatings, and a flour ingredient medicine. While in industry the oil is mainly used in manufacturing industrial products as printing inks, cosmetics, vinyl plastics paints, pesticides, glue, protective coatings, yeast, soaps, shampoos, detergents and rubber. India meets around half of the edible oil requirement through import and India is world largest importer of soy oil after China. These show that there is a tremendous scope in reducing the expenditure on soya oil import by cultivating the soybean with better quality practices. 

Soy flour:
This is another potential product from soybean which can be targeted towards health conscious segment of population. The soya flour has advantages of controlling blood pressure, cholesterol level, various kinds of cancers; it also helps in boosting immunity, curing gynecological problems and in weight reduction.

The soy flour can be added to wheat flour, tentative proportion is half kg of Soy flour in around 10 Kg of Wheat flour, such kind of mixing has shown beneficial effects on digestive system. Soy flour is widely used in meat products, cereals; ready to eat products, food, drink, high protein soups, protein concentrates, special diet food, food additives, Bakery and confectionary products etc.

As far as costing is concerned, the investment in plant and machinery of Soy flour manufacturing unit of 500 tons goes to 6 lakhs and the total investment including in asset, working capital etc goes to 17 lakh. At the end of one year including all the other costs the profit noted is 9% of the total cost.

Soy milk: 
Soy milk can be a competitive product for normal milk. It is a water extract of soy bean and has nutritional benefits comparable to cow's milk. The nutritional components are more or less similar to cow milk as it doesn't contain cholesterol and lactose, therefore can be effectively marketed to lactose intolerance as well as health conscious group of population. The limiting factor of marketing the soy milk is its odd flavor but which can be controlled by adding certain additives or even mixing soy milk with other compatible juices.

Soya tofu
Soya tofu is also one of the potential and profitable products obtained from soy bean. It appears like the paneer obtained from normal milk. It contains less fat and more proteins therefore more popular in health conscious segment. The tofu plant having 26 tons of capacity costs 5 lakh and profit observed is 20% of the total costs associated at the end of first year.

Soy Candle:
It is also one of the major applications in industrial category which is proved as a cheaper alternative to Bee Wax. Soy candle is prepared from Soy wax, which is hydrogenated soy oil. Soy wax is mixed with various fragrances to prepare scented soy candles and manufacturing soy candles is an easy and rewarding business at home level. The advantages are observed by comparing Soya candles with paraffin wax candles In comparison to its main competitor, paraffin, soy wax is a much more economically and environmentally friendly alternative. Soy wax comes from renewable sources, since it is grown in crops and can be easily supplied. In comparison, paraffin wax is a petroleum product, which comes from a non-renewable source. Soy candles last 50% longer and emit less soot than paraffin wax an. Use of soy supports farmers, rather than creating further dependence on foreign oil companies. Further, soy wax is biodegradable, whereas paraffin is not.

There is a good scope in setting up such candle making business from soy bean. The innovations can be made by adding various fragrance and shapes to soy candles. The business can run at home or Self Helps groups can be involved in this industry as the cost involved is less. The other soy products becoming popular in the market are tofu, defatted / medium fatty soy flour, soya suji, soya nuts etc. 

Indian processing industry is growing with a fast pace and considered as a sunrise industry which has noted a highest growth rate of around 13%. Many Indian food as well non food products have great demand at international market. India's cheaper manpower, diverse agro climatic and geographic conditions are the strong point as far as production and manufacturing sides are concerned. But in order to sustain in the growing competition where thousands of companies enter in the market on annual basis; innovation, branding, quality maintenance, adopting newer marketing strategies are becoming equally important for achieving a successful enterprise.

Maize and Soybean can be taken as commercially viable option in farming and processing with respect to food as well as nonfood areas. Both the crops stated above are relatively newer in processed market and therefore equally have good potential in research field. There is a great scope to innovate or manufacture new types of products which can be targeted against different demographic segments within the population and this will surely generate a good demand from the market. 

Mrs. Sharvari Patil
Asst. Professor
Department of Agri Business Management
MITCON Institute of Management, Pune
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