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`Profits lower for Bt cotton farmers'

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , April 30

A STUDY conducted by A.P. Coalition in Defence of Diversity (APCDD) and Deccan Development Society (DDS), both non-government organisations (NGOs), states that the net profit of farmers who cultivated Bt cotton this year is 9 per cent (Rs 750 per acre) less when compared to the farmers who cultivated non-Bt cotton.

As a sequel to their earlier research in 2002, APCDD and DDS conducted the study in three cotton-growing districts of Warangal, Adilabad and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh with a sample size of 164 farmers. Dr Abdul Qayum and Mr Kiran Sakkhari, both agricultural scientists who conducted the study, said extensive data was collected from farmers throughout the season on income and expenditure patterns with regard to cultivation of Bt and non-Bt cotton. Eleven NGOs working in the three districts helped them in data collection.

The study pointed out that though the over all yields were marginally more for Bt cotton, the overall benefit-cost ratio was in favour of non-Bt hybrids. This was on account of higher investments incurred for the cultivation of Bt cotton hybrids. Bt cottonseeds cost 230 per cent more than non-Bt hybrids, while the yield increase has been only 11 kg per acre when compared to non-Bt hybrids.

According to the study, there was only 14 per cent reduction in the incidence of bollworm attack on the Bt cotton crop and the reduction in pesticide consumption was just 12 per cent (Rs 321 less per acre).

In contrast, the Monsanto Ac Nielson (MN) study, pointed out that the bollworm attack was reduced by 58 per cent leading to a drastic reduction in pesticide use, a saving of Rs 1,856 per acre. The industry study also stated that the yield increase was 24 per cent per acre and net profit was Rs 7,276 per acre.

On the other hand, APCDD study pointed out that non-Bt farmers earned 9 per cent more profit than Bt cotton farmers.

According to APCDD Convenor, Mr P.V. Satheesh, MN study has painted an extremely rosy picture of Bt cotton in India, whereas the ground realities were completely different. "The industry has claimed four times more than the actual reduction in pesticide use, 12 times more yield and 100 times more profit than the actual," he said.

While the MN study says that Bt farmers produced cotton yields of 1,014 kg per acre, the APCCD study pegs it at 827 kg. As per APCCD study, Bt farmer got 827 kg per acre as against 816 kg harvested by non-Bt farmers, an increase of just 2 per cent.

In the light of these findings, Mr Sateesh demanded that the Government stop the cultivation of Bt cotton for a period of five years till all the implications, including the ecological aspects, of genetically-modified crops were examined.

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