Bt Cotton has benefited farmers, raised yield: Study

June 7th, 2012 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) Cotton production in India has risen with the use of the hybrid Bt cotton seeds, benefitting farmers and helping the country to become net exporter of the cash crop, says a study.

The study, jointly undertaken by the Council for Social Development (CSD) and Bharat Krishak Samaj, says overall production of cotton has grown by 9.25 percent since introduction of BT cotton in 2002-03 and farmers’ income jumped up by nearly 375 percent.

“Cultivation of hybrid BT cotton seeds, which began in 2002-03, has seen the average income of farmers increasing by almost 375 percent, the average cotton yield by 4.95 percent, cotton areas by 4.91 percent and production by 9.25 percent across India’s major cotton growing states,” said the study.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) Cotton is a variety of cotton seed developed with BT, a bacterium which produces toxins to keep insects away. Concerns have been raised over toxins produced by Bt variety of crops.

Scientists and environmentalists, however, say local crops are being polluted through cross pollination.

Ajay Jakhar, chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, said the study was aimed at “separating truth from perception”.

“In the last 10 years India has become the second largest cotton producer in the world. With over 90 percent of the total cotton acreage in our country under Bt Cotton,” he said.

The study titled “Socio-economic Impact Assessment of Bt Cotton in India”, was undertaken to validate farmers’ experience using Bt Cotton in the nine cotton growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharshtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujrat, surveying more than 1050 farmers and 300 agricultural labourers.

CSD director T. Haque said “farmers’ responses have underlined significant improvement in livelihoods, better yields and higher returns”.

According to the study, 85 percent farmers and landless labourers invested in better quality education for their children and 77 percent reported intake of high value and nutritious food.

“The country has also benefited immensely as India has become net exporter from being a net importer in recent years,” said Haque.

Jhakhar dismissed reports that use of Bt Cotton seeds was one of the reasons behind the indebtedness of farmers and their suicides.

“CSD’s field research has indicated poor institutional credit access in rain-fed areas and fluctuating prices as the main reasons for this tragedy. Clearly, the government needs to invest more in agriculture infrastructure and ensure farmers have access to cheap institutional credit.”

– Indo-Asian News Service

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