INDIA: Bt cotton seeds to cost more: AICBA

MUMBAI: The New Delhi based representative of 15 seed companies, The All-India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA) in a statement stated that various state governments and the seed industry have agreed in principle to an MRP (minimum retail prices) of Rs 925 per 450 gm packet against Rs 750 for Bollgard I cotton seeds, AICBA executive director RK Sinha said.  
The association believes that Bollgard II cotton seeds are more effective and need to be priced at a premium to Bollgard I cotton seeds as the Bollgard seed contains a protein from a soil microbe called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), that protects the crop from bollworms and requires less pesticide.

While Bollgard I protects against lepidopteran insect pests, Bollgard II with its unique double gene technology in addition offers protection against spodoptera caterpillar.

The AP agriculture minister N Raghuveera Reddy said that farmers need not pay more than Rs 750 as Bollgard II seeds gave no significant benefit in comparison to earlier Bollgard I variety, while most of the states have agreed to the prices, the Andhra government has asked the farmers not to pay more than Rs 750.

RK Sinha also informed that the prices should be market driven and as the cotton has been removed from Essential Commodities Act price should not be fixed. Bollgard-II reduces the number of pesticide spray and also reduces the insect damage on bolls leading to better boll retention and improved yield, thus it should fetch higher price because of heavy cost on R&D.

The most of states that have agreed in principle to the prices includes Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

On the other hand, farmers are willing to pay high price with the kind of benefits they are getting and though the final estimates of use of Bollgard II and I seeds are yet to come but there has been an increase in sale of Bollgard II seeds over Bollgard in areas.

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Added: June 16, 2007 Source: Agencies
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