Genetically modified Bt Cotton: Africa’s Burkina Faso sets an example to follow

Burkina Faso, a small West African nation has completely phased out the cultivation of Bt Cotton which once occupied close to two. 

Published: 17th February 2017 05:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2017 05:46 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: As the debate over the Genetically Modified crop, Bt Cotton rages in India, Burkina Faso, a small West African nation has completely phased out the cultivation of Bt Cotton which once occupied close to 2.8 lakh hectares in the country. In India, Bt Cotton occupies close to 95 per cent of the 105 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation.

Speaking to media in Hyderabad on Thursday, a group of agricultural activists from Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN) explained how the turnaround came about in the African nation.  

Kadidja Kone, Regional Focal Point for COPAGEN said like India even in Burkina Faso Bt Cotton had a grand welcome in 2003 as it proved to be a better seed than local varieties. By 2012 close to 70% of land under cotton was occupied by Bt Cotton. However, as the years progressed, she said, farmers started realising that Bt Cotton yields were falling and the input costs rising drastically.

A research commissioned in Burkina Faso involving 202 cotton farmers, modelled on lines of Telangana based Deccan Development Society threw out some shocking results including the fact that while Bt Cotton priced 30 times higher than local varieties of cotton seeds, its yields were 7% lower.

Kone said that when the cotton farmers were made aware of this data they themselves started showing less interest in cultivating it which started getting slowly phased out.  

Another reason behind the wipe out is the centralised seed distribution and cotton procurement in the country. Kone said there are three main cotton companies there which sell seeds and buy produced cotton. The companies started realising that fibre of Bt Cotton is of poorer quality and is fetching a very low price.

As a result, the cotton companies stopped promoting Bt Cotton. The three companies have filed a court case asking for 74 million Euros as compensation from the seed company Monsanto.

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