Independent team visits Bt cotton fields in Raichur

Following media reports on Bt cotton failure, an independent fact finding team of experts visited Bt cotton fields in Raichur district on Thursday. The team comprised H.R. Prakash, Agronomist and Rtd Additional Director, Department of Agriculture; Manjunath Holalu, Environmentalist; P. Srinivas Vasu, ActionAid representative; Venkatesh Patel, farmer; Syed Hafeez Ulha, convenor of Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti; Lakshman Gowda, representative of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha; and others. The team visited fields in Gonal and Kadagamdoddi villages and interacted with the affected farmers.

In Gonal, affected farmers were found desperately seeking suggestions and recommendations from the team members about alternative cotton seeds for cultivation. “We have suffered a massive blow with the failure of Bt cotton. Please suggest us some other varieties that could withstand pest attack and fetch better yield,” a farmer pleaded.

Speaking to the media at a Bt cotton field in Gonal, about 15 km from Raichur, Dr. Prakash, who headed the team, said that around 80 percent of the Bt cotton crop was destroyed due to pink bollworm attack.

“A study report released by a team of agricultural scientists from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, pointed out that around 40-50 per cent of Bt cotton crop in rain-fed area was destroyed in pink bollworm attack. We, however, found that the damage was over 80 per cent. The university should resend the team to fields for fresh study and submit a report to the government seeking appropriate actions for safeguarding the interests of affected farmers,” he said.

Mr. Manjunath Holalu, another team member, pointed out that both Raichur and Dharwad agriculture universities had, in their Package of Practices reports, recommended Bt cotton cultivation for rain-fed areas which goes against the recommendations of the Central Institute for Cotton Research. He also pointed out that Bollguard II variety of Bt cotton seeds, which was developed for controlling pink bollworm, had utterly failed.

“The instruction guide supplied with Bt cotton seed packet clearly claims that ‘it controls not only American, Spotted and Pink bollworms, but also highly effective against Spodoptera and Semi-loopers’. But in reality, it failed to control pink bollworm that has completely destroyed the crop,” he observed. He showed the empty Bt cotton seed packets and the instructional manuals that he collected from farmers.

P. Srinivas Vasu, a team member, wanted the government to hold Bt cotton seed companies responsible for the loss and compel them to pay compensation to affected farmers.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 2:51:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/independent-team-visits-bt-cotton-fields-in-raichur/article8025754.ece

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