Biotechnology Impact on Cotton Production

From 2002-03, the time of adoption of Bt cotton, India has witnessed an astonishing revolution in the cotton sector, that has not been felt in the case of any another crop. The cotton production jumped from 14 million bales in 2000-01 to 39 million bales in 2014-15, registering a 178% increase. India, on the whole, produced 140 million bales “extra” during 2003-04 to 2014-15. It has changed the status of India in the field of cotton production: India, from a net importer in 2000-01, became a net importer in 2014-15 as well as the largest producer. In fact India has been ranked the second largest exporter after the United States.

Economic Benefits from Cotton Production

With the enhancement in cotton production, India saved an import bill of $24.2 billion, collectively, in 2002-15. Apart from this, because of the surplus production India’s export of raw cotton mounted and added around $21.2 billion to national export earnings. To add more, India earned about $9.36 billion from the “extra” yarn exports that became possible by the increased cotton production.

Benefits of Cotton farmers

Due to the cultivation of hybrid Bt cotton seeds that started in 2002-03, the average income of farmers has increased by almost 575%. Moreover, the application of Bt cotton seeds in India has enhanced cotton yield from 308 kg per hectare in 2001 to 509 kg per hectare in 2009.

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Problems of Bt cotton

Apart from imparting negative impact on the environment, it has affected, rather negatively, the farmers who lacked the technology as they felt being left behind in the race. Besides, GM seeds are resistant to only few diseases, issues like defective seeds, prevalence of GM-resistant pests like pink bollwarm are also emerging and causing concerns.

Recent Government Decision

Recently, as it has become obvious, the government has become control-centric in Bt cotton seeds pricing, including trait fees between parent company Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd  and licensee companies that have acquired private contracts.

Impact on Farmers

It will lead to cheaper seeds (Bolgard II) for farmers, therefore, leading to a cut in production costs. It has been estimated to bring upto Rs. 250 crore savings for the Maharashtra cotton farmers. It is going to help farmers in enhancing production and cope better with droughts.

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