Agri Business

‘Crop rotation can control pest attack on Bt cotton’

| Updated on: Jul 06, 2016

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

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

Miffed over complaints from state governments and farmers organisations, the Centre recently capped GM cotton seed prices at Rs 800 for a packet of 400 grams. Earlier, it was sold between Rs 830 and Rs 1,100 a packet in different states.

BT cotton accounts for nearly 90 per cent of acreage in India.

Mahyco has joint venture with US multinational agrochemical company Monsanto for selling BT cotton seeds in India.

The Government also capped the royalty paid to Monsanto to Rs 43 a packet from Rs 163.

Hybrid seed production itself is a highly labour-intensive affair, where the male part of a flower is removed one day and the resultant female parent manually pollinated with the pollen from another flower the next day. It takes 7-8 labourers working over two months to produce cottonseeds from one acre.

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


Many farmers in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana have also complaints of pink bollworm attack on BT cotton which are supposed to be pest-resistant.

Asked whether BT cotton is losing its resistance power, Barwale said the company has observed that some farmers were taking 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 delayed monsoon and farmers cultivated new crop immediately, he said.

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

Mahyco has sought Maharashtra Government’s permission to introduce its hybrid chickpeas variety in the state. The company has successfully conducted two trials in Andhra Pradesh.

Published on January 17, 2018

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