INDIA: Bollgard seeds to increase cotton output

NEW DELHI: The  East India Cotton Association feels that the increase in the use of genetically altered seeds by the farmers may rise the domestic cotton output by 7 percent in the cotton year starting October 2007, executive, O.P. Agarwal said here on June 12.

He clarified that the production may rise to 29 million bales of 170kg (375 pounds) each as planting of modified cotton expands to cover two-thirds of the nationís 9 million hectare (22 million acre) growing area.

There are indications of the crop being 28-29 million bales next year as the use of genetically modified seeds is set to help higher output.

Further, farmers in the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan planted modified cotton seeds, including Monsantoís Bollgard II variety, on at least 10 percent more land.

The Bollgard seed contains a protein from a soil microbe called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, that protects the crop from bollworms and requires less pesticide. The cotton futures for December delivery fell 45 cents, or 0.8%, to $57.29 a pound on the New York Board of Trade. The contract rose to 57.74 cents a pound on 11 June, the highest closing price for a most active contract since 12 June 2006.

On the other hand, D.K. Nair, secretary general of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) informed that a lot will depend on the rains the cotton-growing states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra receive; whereas more than two-thirds of domestic cotton crop is still rain-fed.

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Added: June 16, 2007 Source: Agencies
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