Agri-biotechnology Bt cotton Videos of The Day

Bt Cotton: Farmers Love it, Ideologues Mock it

If there is one crop that has been transformed by technology, it is cotton. In 2002, the government approved three cotton hybrids genetically modified to be resistant to boll worms. They contained a gene obtained from a soil bacterium, whose insecticidal properties were discovered in 1901 and was used in bio-pesticides from 1938 onwards. The technology has been so effective in controlling bollworms that farmers have opted to use it on more than 90 percent of India’s cotton acreage.
Monsanto’s insecticide-resistant Cry1Ac gene that was used in the initial Bt hybrids has gone off patent. India’s agriculture ministry wants the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to incorporate it in cheaper open pollinating varieties. A team of Delhi University researchers led by geneticist and former Vice-chancellor Deepak Pental has also licensed its Bt technology to the Central Institute of Cotton Research and Punjab Agricultural University.
CICR is also is propagating a farming practice that it thinks will help farmers avoid the bollworm pest entirely or very substantially. It recommends planting of short duration early maturing varieties that can beat bollworms by putting out cotton bolls before the pests arrive every season. It also advices very high density planting – ten times the norm in India, to compensate for the short duration and fewer cotton pickings. This means cheaper straight varieties whose seeds farmers can save and reuse and not costlier hybrids which have to be brought year after year. The institute says it is persuaded by economics and the science, though it has provided grist to ideologues opposed to free markets and private enterprise.

Curious? Kindly click here.

(Top photo: White or black in disguise?  Cotton blossom at Vasantrao Naik Marathwada agricultural University’s field in Aurangabad.  Photo by Vivian Fernandes, September 2015).


Leave a Comment

Hit Counter provided by technology news
Web Design MymensinghPremium WordPress ThemesWeb Development

I Do Not Understand Bt Cotton technology; I Know It Works

Y Kallanagouda Patil, 46, of Uppinbetegeri village in Dharwad taluk  owns 52 acres jointly with his three brothers. He holds a diploma in agriculture from a school in Raichur. Patil grows cotton on ten acres, apart from sugarcane, potato, Bengal gram, jowar, tur,moong and vegetables. He uses groundwater to irrigate his fields. The water is drawn from a depth of 280 feet. Electricity is free so he flood irrigates the fields, except the one under banana  where he uses drip irrigation. He does not micro-irrigate cotton because it is closely planted and has to make way for another crop after eight months. This farmer has his cost all worked out. Making quick mental calculations, he estimates the cost of cotton crop at Rs 22,500 an acre and the realization from 17 quintals an acre at Rs 68,000. He had planted Bayer seed. ‘I do not understand technology, he says, all I know is if I use Bt seed there will be no

Pests Snack on Chilly But Not Cotton

F Basavaraj Rudagi, 48, did not grow cotton before 2008. This farmer from Saundhi village in Dharwad district’s Kundogol taluk made a partial switch to Bt cotton as chilly was susceptible to pest attack and yield was declining. From five acres in 2009, Rudagi had fifteen of a forty acre joint farm under cotton this year, when smartindianagriculture  caught up with him in February. He tried out Bayer in a change from Mahyco and Raasi seed. Rudagi says he got 11.5 quintals (100 kg) an acre from his rain-fed crop and at Rs 4,050 a quintal, his realization was a little over Rs 46,000. The cost, he says, is Rs 26,000 an acre, excluding rental earnings had he leased out the land. This does not mesh with the profit he claims he makes, but then he admits to not keeping crop-wise accounts. Rudagi also grows peanuts, coriander, gram, safflower and jowar. There is safety in diversity. And yes he plants pigeon pea or tur around the cotton crop for bollworms to feed on so they are not forced by the survival instinct to develop resistance to Bt protein.  In this sense he is quite a cut apart. Low cotton prices are worrying but what is the alternative?