Agri Business

Maharashtra farmers continue to sow banned HT cotton

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on July 04, 2019

In this photo shot last month, members and supporters of the Shetkari Sanghatana declare a civil disobedience agitation against the ban on GM crops and demonstrate at Akot village of Akola district in Maharashtra   -  Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Seeds easily available say farm leaders

Even as the Maharashtra police continue to file cases against farmers sowing HTBT cotton seeds, the Shetkari Sanghatana continues its drive in support of GM crops in Maharashtra. Per initial estimates, 25 per cent of the cotton fields in the State have been put under HTBT cultivation this season.

According to sources, HTBT cotton seeds are coming to Maharashtra’s farmers from Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh through a well-established network.

Shetkari Sanghatana leaders said HTBT cotton seeds are easily available to farmers. In fact, the banned seeds had already reached farmers in January and they were waiting for the monsoon to arrive. With the first monsoon showers, farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions are busy sowing.

The Sanghatana has approached the Centre appealing to it to renounce “Nehruvian socialist policies” in agriculture and open doors for GM crops to double farmers’ income. Haryana farmers have extended their support to Maharashtra’s farmers.

Freedom of technology sought

“The Centre must provide freedom of technology to farmers. Suicide of farmers is an indication of the pathetic condition in the agriculture sector. The government must not only permit but encourage cultivation of GM crops” said Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil Ghanwat. He added that the farmer are not going to succumb to any pressure and would continue to sow banned HTBT cotton seeds. The Sanghatana leaders have submitted memorandums to members of Parliament and State leaders seeking an end on the ban on GM crops.

The Ministry of Agriculture had recently told the Lok Sabha that the sale of HTBT cotton seeds had been reported from three cotton growing States — Maharashtra, Gujarat and Telangana. The Ministry added that as the HT cotton seeds are not approved for use in the country, the Agriculture Department does not have any scientific evidence of the likely impact of HT cotton seeds on crops and on the health of the farmers.

Interestingly, the action by Police has not stopped farmers from sowing HTBT seeds. Rajendra Thakare from Yawardi village in Wasim district openly conducted HTBT sowing operations on a 11-acre field and put the message on social media. Like Thakare many others are spreading the message to sow HTBT seeds via social media.

Ganesh Nanote, a farmer from Akola district, tweeted, “ My #btcotton sowing date 2 June. Now is doing Handweeding by labour. Its cost is ₹1,000/acre per time. It is very time taking process. If late, weed damage crop. If I have #Htbt technology I will save my time money. There is a tremendous need of #Htbt technology in the future”.

Published on July 04, 2019

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