Cotton Farming in India: Time to go back to the drawing board? - Part I

Last Modified: Sun May 08 2016 07:02:41 GMT+0530 (India Standard Time)
  • 95%
    and more of the cotton grown in India comes from a foreign stock — the genetically modified (GM) hybrids of Bt cotton, which have proved defenceless against weather change and insect attacks year after year.
  • 2014
    Bt cotton crop failed in over 56,000 hectares in seven districts of Karnataka. The state government blacklisted Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Private Limited), in which Monsanto has a 26 per cent stake.
  • ₹235 crore
    Ground visits by government agencies and Mahyco representatives pegged the loss to this amount.
  • 2015
    Whitefly attacked and destroyed nearly two-thirds of the cotton crop in Punjab and Haryana even after the farmers sprayed pesticides repeatedly.
  • 2x
    Average input cost have doubled in 5 years since 2007. ₹63,751 per hectare was the average input costs in 2012 compared to less than ₹30,000 in 2007 per the figures compiled by the Cotton Advisory Board of India. Seed prices make up a significant part of the input costs, as GM seeds are more expensive and cannot be reused — farmers buy them from seed companies every year.
  • 2016
    For the first time, a Central government committee was forced to cap seed prices at ₹635 (450 g packet) for the BG-1 hybrid and ₹800 for the BG-2 hybrid.
  • 1 kg/hectare
    use of pesticide for Bt cotton for the past 3 years, this is at the same level used before its introduction, belying claims that Bt cotton is more resistance to pests.
  • 3x
    Use of chemical fertiliser in the last 5 years. Given that fertilisers are subsidised in India, this will only increase the burden on public finances.
  • 15
    years since its introduction, Bt cotton seems to have failed on its promise of higher yield, low fertiliser use and tolerance to pests.