Agri Business

Bt cotton acreage rises by 1 mn hectare

PTI Nashik (Maharashtra) | Updated on June 12, 2011

The area under Bt cotton cultivation has increased by 1 million hectare across the country, reflecting growing popularity of the biotech variety of the commercial crop, a prominent seed company said.

Bt cotton was grown in an area of 9.4 million hectare (ha) in 2010 as compared to 8.4 million ha in the year—ago period, Usha Barwale, Chief Technology Officer of Mahyco, a pioneering private seed company, said quoting figures from ISAAA.

International Service for the Acquisition of Agri—biotech Applications (ISAAA) is a not—for—profit international organisation that shares the benefits of crop biotechnology to various stakeholders, particularly resource—poor farmers in developing countries.

Bt cotton constitutes 86 per cent of the total cotton grown in the country presently, she told a team of visiting journalists.

Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited) was the first company to successfully commercialise hybrid cotton and the first company in the country.

Founded in 1964 by award winning agri scientist B R Barwale, Mahyco received the government of India approval in 2002 for commercialisation of insect—tolerant Bt cotton.

Usha Barwale said the annual global study of benefits generated by biotech crops conducted by Brookes and Bar foot estimated that India enhanced farm income from Bt cotton by $ 7 billion in the period 2002—2009 and $ 1.9 billion in 2009 alone.

According to the Cotton Advisory Board, cotton is produced in 11 million hectare of areas and its total production in 2010—11 was estimated at 312 lakh bales. In 2002, the cotton production in the country was only 150 lakh bales.

The area under Bt cotton has multiplied many times in different states since 2002, according to ISAAA statistics.

The area under Bt cotton increased to over 8.3 million hectares in 2009 from a meagre 50,000 hectares in 2002, the ISAAA figure said.

Expansion of areas under Bt cotton has multiplied many—fold in the major producing states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the figures added.

Usha Barwale said popularity of the Bt cotton variety could be gauged from the fact that farmers travel from far off places to purchase its hybrid seeds from us in Nashik and are ready to pay even extra money.

Published on June 12, 2011

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