INDIA: Bt cotton boost India's cotton production

NEW DELHI: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said recently, Monsanto's Bt cotton has been a significant contributor to India's record cotton production this season.

"The Bt cotton yield was definitely better in quality and quantity, boosting production by 30-35% in areas it was sown. Gujarat has benefited the most from higher production," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of the annual Social Editors' Conference here.

The higher yield and better cotton quality derived from Bt cotton could well be an incentive to look at other genetically modified agriculture crops being developed, the minister stated.

"The results certainly encourage us to look at other GM crops," he said.

As against the average 16-17 million bales production, India is this year expecting record production of about 20 million bales, said Mangala Rai, director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

The officials did not have data on the increase in the acreage sown this year under Bt cotton nor the share of the genetically modified cotton in the total production.

"The low incidence of pest this year plus favourable precipitation of monsoon at the right time as also the performance of the Bt cotton all helped in a record production this year," said Rai.

The farmers joys have however been overcast by lower domestic prices at the prospect of a glut with global production also generally being higher this year. Current International prices are much lower, making exports unremunerative.

Assuring cotton farmers all government support, Pawar said the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has been directed to purchase stocks from them.

"Along with Maharashtra government plans to procure cotton from farmers, the CCI will also go to the state in eight days to purchase cotton. We will need to export cotton," the minister said.

He said incentives would be provide to cotton exporters. "Incentive schemes for promotion of exports will be considered," Pawar said, adding that various proposals are under consideration.

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Added: November 8, 2004 Source: Agencies
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