Agri Business

‘Crop rotation can control pest attack on Bt cotton’

Suresh P Iyengar | | Updated on: Jan 17, 2018

The recent cut in Bt ( Bacillus Thuringiensis ) cottonseed prices is unlikely to provide much relief to farmers as the seed cost accounts for just 5 per cent of the total cost of cultivation, said Shirish R Barwale, Director, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco).

“The cost of labour and fertilisers has increased substantially in the last few years. Farmers’ realisations were squeezed between the rising cost of cultivation and sudden fall in commodity prices. The focus should be on farm mechanisation and right use of fertilisers,”  Barwale told BusinessLine.

Miffed over complaints by State governments and farmers’ organisations, the Centre recently capped GM cottonseed prices at ₹800 for a packet of 450 grams. Earlier, it was sold between ₹830 and ₹1,100 a packet in different States.

Bt cotton accounts for nearly 90 per cent of cotton acreage in India. Mahyco has a joint venture with the US multinational agrochemical company Monsanto to sell Bt cottonseeds in India.

The Centre has also capped the royalty paid to Monsanto to ₹43 a packet from ₹163.

The country has about 75 lakh farmers who produce cotton for commercial sale, and over three lakh growers who produce the hybrid cotton seeds that are used by farmers for planting.

Pest attack

Many farmers in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana have also complained of attacks by pest-resistant pink bollworm on Bt cotton.

Asked whether Bt cotton is losing its resistance power, Barwale said the company has observed that some farmers planted a new crop immediately after harvest without giving enough time for the soil to regain its nutrients.

The cotton season was extended last year due to the delayed monsoon and farmers cultivated the new crop immediately, he said.

Ideally, cotton farmers should consider crop rotation as taking a crop holiday is not practically viable in India given the small land holding of farmers, said Barwale.

Mahyco has sought the Maharashtra government’s permission to introduce its hybrid chickpea variety in the State.

The company has successfully conducted two trials in Andhra Pradesh.

Published on July 07, 2016
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