The Hindu Business Line

Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment wor­ried by wide­spread use of HTBT cot­ton

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

- RAHUL WADKE Agriculture · Industries · Government of Maharashtra · Maharashtra · Yavatmal

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 dislead­ers, trict 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 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.

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