at bay, farmers fell into the trap of using stronger pesticides. “Faulty seeds have led to more spraying, it has been established beyond doubts now,” said another official.
“The cost of pesticide spraying on BT cotton crops has increased considerably. We want the companies to pay for the cost. Our case will be further strengthened by the Yavatmal incident,” said an official.
Bt cotton (Bollard-II) is meant to be resistant to pink bollworm, a small gray moth with fringed wings, which is the most damaging of all pests for cotton. The female lays eggs in the cotton bolls and the larvae emerge to destroy entire fields by chewing through the cotton lint to feed on the seeds. Officials said this year, the infestation started from July-August; usually they appear at the fag end of the crop cycle in October.
The cost of pesticides, nearly 40-45% of the production cost, is projected to be reduced by the use of BT seeds. So, a 425gm packet of BGII BT cotton seed costs between Rs 925 to Rs 1,050, nearly three times the cost of a regular seed packet. At least three packets are required for one acre of land.
According to norms, the compensation amount is restricted to recovering the cost of seeds and production losses from the companies. The state government will include the cost of spraying as a part of the compensation from this year. Under section 28 of the insecticides Act, the government holds the right to change the norms for compensation in certain circumstances. “We will invoke this section,” said the official.
The government will start inspection of the affected areas from next week. “The panchnama report (on the damage) will be made in the presence of the seed com- panies’ officials so that they cannot contest them at the time of giving compensation,” said the official.
The pink bollworm attack has been reported in nearly 571 villages in the cotton belt. The state government has written to the Centre about the failing resistance of the BT BG-II seeds to pink bollworm, and is still awaiting a decision. “The affected area is more than 1.44 lakh hectares and most of these villages are in Vidarbha and Marathwada, the cotton-producing areas in the state,” said the official.