Thursday March 30 2006
AP Bt cotton farmers incur losses: Study
From R Akhileshwari DH News Service Hyderabad:
Why is government allowing hyped-up propaganda on Bt cotton, when it knows the facts? - Kavitha Kuruganti, Chairperson, CSA [Read CSA Press Release]
A research study done by six organisations has shown that the farmers of Andhra Pradesh who opted for Bt cotton have incurred a loss of about Rs 400 crore during the kharif season 2005.
“There has been no respite for the Bt cotton farmers in the state,” even as companies like Mahyco-Monsanto are lobbying with the state government to return to the state, the report says. A study done by the Hyderabad based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and six other partners in the state showed that the cost of cultivation per acre of Bt cotton was about 67 per cent higher than NPM/organic cotton, while the net incomes were lower in Bt cotton by at least 37 per cent compared to the NPM/organic cotton.
The study was taken up as part of the efforts of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) on Bt cotton, set up by 20 civil society organisations across the country. The study, based on season-long, fortnightly monitoring of 120 Bt cotton fields in five districts and 123 traditional and organic cotton farmers in four districts, found that pest incidence in Bt cotton was far higher than in the other varieties despite the fact that the pesticide cost of Bt cotton farmers was almost four times more. Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu, executive director, CSA said: “Our fact finding visits throughout the season as well as this scientific study point out that Bt cotton not only does not deliver the promises made by the companies in their marketing propaganda, but also fares badly compared to non-Bt cotton, especially NPM/organic approaches to cotton cultivation. The risks involved in cultivating Bt cotton are high. In this context, it is incomprehensible why the government is promoting a technology that asks poor, unsupported cotton farmers to take more and more risks”.
Kavitha Kuruganti, chairperson of the CSA, pointed out that even the state government’s assessment of Bt cotton for the Kharif 2005 reached similar conclusions. “The government feels that Bt cotton is suitable only under fertile soils, and with assured irrigation. If the government knows all of this, why is it allowing hyped-up propaganda on Bt cotton? Why is it not taking appropriate decisions on the technology itself and its desirability, rather than taking a hybrid-by-hybrid approach to decision-making related Bt cotton?” she asked.
The CSA demanded that the government come out with a white paper on the performance of the Bt cotton in the past four years and decide whether it is a sound and sustainable pest management option for the cotton farmers in the state. It also wanted the government to put into place accountability mechanisms right at the time of providing marketing licenses and address pending liability issues.