BANGALORE: Ten years after BT cotton was introduced in India, the data obtained from the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Government of India, revealed that BT has not proved good to the farmers.
At first, the cost of insecticides used by farmers in the cotton growing areas in the state increased by 166 per cent between 2004 and 2010. Companies supporting BT cotton claimed that BT would significantly control bollworms, an insect pest that kills cotton plantation.
Thus if the farmers used BT, the amount of insecticide should have dipped or remained constant. However, the data shows from 1996 to 2004, the cost of insecticide used per hectre of land increased by 35 per cent. By 2010, the price rose by 166 per cent.
Also, the BT cotton period starting from 2005-06 saw an increase in yield in three years with a moderate 17 per cent increase up to 2007-08. It was 554 kilogram per hectare in 2007-08 as compared to 470 kg/hectre in 2005-06.
However, the yield witnesses a downward trend since then. In 2011-12, the cotton yields reached 481 kilograms per hectare as compared to 470 kilograms per hectare in 2004-05 before the BT cotton boom.
“The myth that BT cotton has been primarily responsible for doubling the cotton production in India, and for phenomenal increase in yields is exposed. It is not enough for the farmers if one pest is controlled. The entire issue has to be addressed. It is proved that the secondary pest will take over while controlling the first. So, it was a baseless claim,” said Kavitha Kuruganti from Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture. Executive director of Agricultural Group of the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises Dr Seetarama Nadoor did not deny the statistics but said farmers were not aware enough about BT.
“We need to look at data and take corrective action accordingly,” he added.