Karnataka

V-C upholds UAS-R report on BT cotton loss in Pink Bollworm pest attack

P.M. Salimath, Vice Chancellor of University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, addressing mediapersons in Raichur on Saturday. - PHOTO: SANTOSH SAGAR   | Photo Credit: SANTOSH SAGAR

Amidst sharp criticisms and objections by farmers’ organisations and independent cotton experts to the report submitted by a team of agricultural scientists from University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur (UAS-R) on Bt cotton destruction in Pink Bollworm pest attack in Raichur district, P.M. Salimath, Vice Chancellor of the University, firmly upheld the report by categorically stating that the report was objective and in favour of affected farmers. He was responding to the queries on the issue at a press conference in Raichur on Saturday.



“Upon the request by Joint Director, Department of Agriculture, Raichur, our team of experts visited 14 villages in Raichur district where Bt cotton was destroyed by Pink Bollworm. It found 70-80 per cent destruction in 9 villages and around 50 per cent destruction in remaining 5 villages. We have submitted concise report to the Joint Director mentioning the findings. The report unambiguously stated that the Bt cotton crop was destroyed by Pink Bollworm despite farmers having taken all precautions and followed recommended cultivation methods. The point naturally goes in favour of farmers and supports them in their claim for compensation from seed companies,” he said.



A team of agriculture scientist from University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, along with experts from UAS-R will revisit destroyed cotton fields shortly and come up with more comprehensive report.



When asked why the report talked only about the extent of loss and not anything about Bt technology and its feasibility in our climatic conditions, Mr. Salimath said that technology could not be rejected without proper investigation and research which was not possible in a short time.



“Nothing is permanent. Technologies develop and collapse after a period of time. Obsolete technologies need new touch to remain relevant. Farmers have reaped rich profits from Bt cotton all these years. Now Pink Bollowrm has posed a new challenge. We need to develop the Bt technology to address the newly cropped up issues of rejecting the technology itself once and for all,” he said.



He denied the allegations that University scientists were ganged up with Bt cotton seed companies. “No scientist or University can join hands with corporate companies to mislead and betray poor farmers. All our efforts are farmer-centric and development-driven,” he said.



Coordination

Mr. Salimath said that, he, in a meeting with Agriculture Minister Mr. Krishna Byre Gowda, had proposed to form a coordination committee of all agricultural and horticultural universities in the State which could address the common agrarian issues with a proper coordination.



“Agriculture Universities need to work with proper coordination. The crops and cropping patterns in North Karnataka, including Hyderabad Karnataka, are similar and the issues are also similar. At least, Dharwad and Raichur agriculture universities need to work in coordination to address these common issues with a proper structure. The agriculture minister has shown interest and green signal for forming such structure,” he said.


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