Popular Article

White Maize (Zea mays L.): An Emerging Option for Crop Diversification and Nutritional Security

Ganapati Mukri, Chandu Singh, K. Bhojaraja Naik, V. R. Yalamalle and Subhash Babu

  • Page No: 072 - 075
  • Published online: 19 Sep 2022

  • Abstract
  •  ganapati4121@gmail.com

Maize is the third most important cereal after wheat and rice and the major chunk of maize production is used as poultry and animal feed in India. But for direct human consumption white maize is preferred. Hence, from the human nutritional point of view, there is a need to improve the nutritional value of white maize. Genetically both yellow and white maize is the same except for genes coding the β-carotene, which imparts a golden yellow color to the maize. The white maize breeding program started during the 1960s, resulting in the release of ‘Ganga safed 2’, which is still popular among farmers. The future breeding prospects and the role of quality protein maize (QPM) in nutrition and value additions are very important aspects.

Keywords :   Crop improvement, fodder maize, varieties, white maize, qpm

  • Introduction

    Maize (Zea mays) is one of the oldest and most dynamic crop species, which has gained popularity, due to its applications in diverse dishes. The literal meaning of its name (Zea-sustaining life and mays-life giver) rightly says its potential of sustaining both the human and animal populations of the world (Mukri et al., 2020). In India, it is the third most important crop after wheat and rice. Maize is consumed as a staple food in the eastern and western parts of India in general and in Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh in particular (Kaul et al., 2012). White maize is mostly preferred over yellow maize for direct human consumption as a staple food.  White maize is similar to yellow maize in all nutritional aspects except that white maize has recessive alleles of the β carotene gene, which is responsible for white endosperm color.

    The area and production scenario of white maize are not readily available due to the lack of a separate record of white maize as a separate commodity. But it is estimated that > 90% of the white maize produced is directly utilized for human consumption in India (Mukri et al., 2013). The roti-making quality of white maize is far better than yellow maize and it does not give any additional flavor as that of yellow maize, for culinary preparations. The flour of white maize can be mixed with any other flour and a variety of dishes with improved nutritional value can be prepared. So, it is considered the best option to increase the value of snack preparations made up of rice, wheat, and gram flour.   

  • History of White Maize Improvement in India

    The maize improvement research focuses entirely on the development of populations, composites, and hybrids in yellow maize and very little attention has been paid to the development of white maize varieties/hybrids, however, due to the growing domestic requirements, some of the institutes were exclusively working on the improvement of white maize in India. In India, crop improvement work on white maize started during the 1960s. The ‘Ganga Safed 2’, a double top cross hybrid, was the first white maize hybrid released in 1963 by the Directorate of Maize Research, New Delhi. It is a widely adapted, medium maturing hybrid; very popular in white maize growing regions of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan. It is resistant to foliar diseases and most resistant to bacterial rot having a yielding ability of 4.5–5.0 t ha-1. Since then a series of white maize composites and hybrids were released from different institutions and they are tabulated as follows.

  • QPM in White Maize

    Breeding for improved protein quality in maize began in the mid-1960 with the discovery of mutants, such as opaque-2, that produce enhanced levels of lysine and tryptophan, the two limiting amino acids in maize endosperm proteins. Quality Protein Maize (QPM) contains, in general, 55% more tryptophan, 30% more lysine, and 38% less leucine than that of normal maize. Besides protein quality, QPM Maize is also high in biological value, which refers to the proportion of absorbed protein from food that incorporated into the proteins of the organism’s body. In yellow maize, several hybrids have been released with improved protein quality. Whereas, in white maize also two important hybrids, Shaktiman 1 and Shaktiman 2 were released for general cultivation in Bihar state to mitigate hidden hunger. The detailed consumer preference studies for white maize will further boost the white maize improvement program in India. There is no dearth of availability of the germplasm for white maize improvement (Mukri et al., 2018).

  • Fodder Variety in White Maize

    To meet the increased feed and fodder demand from the livestock sector, maize becomes a potential option to answer the growing needs of this sector. Fodder research in maize is gaining importance because of its improved nutritional quality, better palatability, and absence of anti-nutritional components. One of the outcomes of forage research in white maize is African tall, a composite variety, which was released in 1982 from the Kolhapur center. Another two composite viz., J 1006 and Pratap Makka Chari 6 which were released from PAU, Ludhiana, and MPUA&T Udaipur respectively, are suitable for fodder purposes.

  • Conclusion

    Maize is a versatile crop, which consumes fewer resources compared to paddy. White maize has several industrial applications in the preparation of baby food, corn sugar, and industrial starch. White maize also has a low glycemic index and high fiber content, there is an increasing consumer preference for white maize. The white QPM maize floor has the potential to replace or partly replace other cereals in packaged and processed foods, further strengthening the nutritional security of India.

  • Future Research Thrust

    White maize is preferred over yellow maize for direct human consumption in the form of roti. The majority of the genetic materials used in the white maize improvement are temperate in origin. There is an immense scope for breeder to breed for tropically adapted white maize germplasm to enhance the productivity. The genetic and nutritional quality enhancement of white maize followed by an efficient hybrid breeding programme should be the strategy for sustained improvement of white maize in India.

  • References
  • Reference
  • Kaul, J., Nara, U., Kumar, R., Kumar, R.S., Kumar, V., 2012. A compendium of hybrids and composites of maize (1993-2012). Directorate of Maize Research, Pusa Campus, New Delhi 110 012, India, 36.

    Mukri, G., Bhat, J.S., Gadag, R.N., Motagi, B.N., Manjunatha, B., Kumar, R., Pal, D., 2020. Evaluation of inbred lines derived from commercial hybrids and their utilization in developing high yielding field corn (Zea mays L.) hybrids. Maydica65(24), 19.

    Mukri, G., Kumar, R., Rajendran, A., Kumar, B., Hooda, K.S., Karjagi, C.G., Singh, V., Jat, S.L., Das, A.K., Sekhar, J.C., Singh, S.B., 2018. Strategic selection of white maize inbred lines for tropical adaptation and their utilization in developing stable, medium to long duration maize hybrids. Maydica 63, 1–8.

    Mukri, G., Kumar, R., Chaoudary, D., Singh, V., Magajan, V., 2013. White maize: A vision on Indian scenario. Ikshavrsh 4(2), 70–72.


Mukri G, Ch , Singh u, Naik KB, Yalamalle VR, Babu S. White Maize (Zea mays L.): An Emerging Option for Crop Diversification and Nutritional Security CBM [Internet]. 19Sep.2022[cited 8Feb.2022];6(1):072-075. Available from: http://www.pphouse.org/cbm-article-details.php?cbm_article=71

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