Agri Business

Maharashtra government worried by widespread use of HTBT cotton

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on August 13, 2019 Published on August 13, 2019

A representational image

About 20% of cotton crop in Yavatmal is of unapproved varieties

In the farmer suicide-prone Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, about 4.5 lakh hectares of cotton has been planted.

The State government officials are worried that about 20 per cent of it are herbicide tolerant BT (HTBT) and other unapproved cotton varieties.

In the last 15 years, the district has seen hundreds of farmers committing suicide following cotton crop failures.

Seed sales down

A senior government official told BusinessLine on condition of anonymity that an area of 4.5 lakh hectares require about 11.25 lakh packets of cotton seeds, but the sale was down by a couple of lakh packets, which confirms the field information that farmers have planted HTBT cotton.

Framers believe that even BT cotton is not immune to pink bollworm attack. They are looking for a new solution and their leaders say that the alternative to BT cotton is HTBT.

Small-scale planting of HTBT has been happening for the last three years, but this year the issue has come out in the open with some farmers’ groups openly supporting the planting of HTBT seeds, the official said.

Farmers’ defiance

Even if farmers are regularly advised against planting HTBT cotton by the State government, certain farmer leaders, covertly support the use of unapproved seeds.

Some farmers prepare test plots in their fields to showcase such experiments, the official added.

In early June, about 1,000 farmers gathered in a village in Akola district, which is close to Yavatmal, to sow the HTBT variety of cotton, defying environmental laws and regulations.

The event was organised by Shetkari Sanghtana, a farmers’ association, which is a votary for genetically modified crops.

Published on August 13, 2019
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